A man landed on a deserted island he thought, and as he wandered around. He came across a small grass hut with a sign, “2nd Deserted Island Church of Christ”. He went in, found the bearded man sitting on the sand, song book (of sorts) in his hand and inquired of the man, if there were anyone else on the island? The bearded man said, “No, just me.” The man asked, “Well, why does the sign say, “2nd Church of Christ”? The bearded man said, “Well a while back I had a disagreement with myself, so I left and started another congregation.”
While humor is good, the subject of “Fellowship”, is truly serious, and one of the most precious blessings we have in Christ. Sad indeed it is when “FELLOWSHIP” is misunderstood, and used the wrong way, as if we can somehow take it away, or grant it, depending on whether or not someone agrees with us in every detail. Sadly we have seen congregations where the leadership “withdraws fellowship” from other congregations and their leaderships. I have found no example of this being done in the New Testament, not even with the church in Corinth. Bottom line, we need to re-study “Fellowship”. Maybe this brief article will be helpful in beginning this study. Read and re-read it with your Bible handy. I TAKE NO CREDIT FOR THE ARTICLE, I found this in dad’s New Testament, and recall him reading it to me and referring to it several times. I am grateful to the author, and encourage you to give this some thought… Maybe a comment… Dad underlined sections which I will put in bold print.
“It is important to remember that the word “fellowship’ is a noun. It is never used as a verb. We should not belittle such truths, because it is necessary that we employ sound speech. We do not want to confuse others, and to avoid doing so, we must not use the language of the Spirit, we must also do it in the same manner in which the Spirit has used it. Thus, we should not say that we fellowship a certain person. We are in the fellowship with certain persons. We never ask, “Do you partnership him?” or “Do you companionship him?” By the same token we do not ask, “Do you fellowship him?” To do so, removes fellowship from a state or condition and reduces it to an act. It then becomes something which we may extend or withdraw, when, in reality, it is a state in which we enter. That is why the expression “withdraw fellowship” is not in the scriptures.
We do not “fellowship” things, or ideas, or doctrines. Fellowship is a relation between persons, like brotherhood or partnership. The word “fellow” shows this. It is from a word meaning “a companion” or “one who shares”. We do not fellowship societies … Bible classes, individual cups, etc… I mention this because of the communion error of many of my good brethren, who have been conditioned by long practice to misuse the word in such a manner. We need to purify our speech if we would please God.
The implication of what we have said is simply this. Fellowship is not a state that is entered because of a position on the things that have been allowed to divide us. We come into the fellowship by response to the call of God. Anyone who makes the proper response to that call enters the fellowship. He may not even know there has been division created by an attitude toward certain things. He may be unaware that God’s family is rent or divided. Just as the fellowship is not entered by a view of these issues, and because of that, it is our contention that it (fellowship)( JHEjr.) is not broken or destroyed by an opinion on these matters. Fellowship is brotherhood. Brotherhood is the result of common Fatherhood. Disagreements with each other about certain things do not remove us from our family. The term used to describe the family relationship of God’s children is “fellowship”.
Fellowship is way too precious for us to ‘mess up’. The body of Christ is a grand family of believers. We do not all believe the same on everything. That’s just a fact. Yet on the basics, and ‘core essentials, we agree. Things like cups, kitchens, buses, puppets, styles of music, Bible classes, Bible translations, Women’s head coverings etc…. should not be allowed to ever divide the body of Christ. These things and many other things we have allowed to upset, splinter and divide the church are not the basis of fellowship. The foundation of our fellowship, is coming to Jesus by faith, repenting of our sins, being immersed into Jesus at which time we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38-39). That promise is given to all who come to Jesus. The Lord add all those who come, to the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Guard and protect the unity of the Spirit..