The Spiritual Discipline of Fellowship
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
It’s a cold February night and you’re cuddled up in your favorite sweatpants, your favorite book or TV show is calling out your name, you have a pantry full of comforting snacks you can’t wait to get your hands on and your favorite blanket is just within reach.
You’re in one of those moods where you don’t want to see or talk to another human being and can’t even imagine that changing until tomorrow.
And then you get a call from a friend who wants you to come over and pray for her. Or you have a Bible study to host and you really don’t want to. Or you are supposed to make a bit of a drive out to volunteer at a church event.
They won’t miss you right?
You do feel like your throat is a little scratchy so better play it safe and miss just this once.
I paint this weird picture for you because I wanted to start this blog post with “community is hard.” But I felt like you might be like, “nope, not for me, I love my friends.”
And I love my friends too. Even on one of those nights when I feel like I just can’t even muster up the strength or care to speak to another human.
I wanted you to put yourself in the position of really not wanting to go somewhere or do something that involves people, even you extroverts (I’m in that camp) because we all have those nights. We have those nights where everything in us says, “nope, not going to be around people today.”
Community is hard. Fellowship takes discipline.
Community is what you’re thinking of right off the bat. It’s hosting your friends for dinner, it’s going to an event downtown for a group, it’s planning a weekend trip.
Fellowship takes community one step further. Fellowship is the higher standard of community that we’re called to as believers. It’s difficult. But it’s worth it.
A lot of us have had a lonely year, so maybe you’re thinking I don’t care if it’s hard. I want to be around people so I’m in. What do I do first?
First, you have to have fellowship with Jesus.
Can I have a little Bible nerd moment for a minute here?
The word “fellowship” in the Bible is the greek word Koinonia and it can be translated “sharing” “participation” or “contribution” along with “fellowship.”
So what does fellowship with Jesus look like? It means sharing. Sharing our lives with Him. Not giving Him a segment of the day before bed or in the morning, but allowing Him to accompany us and speak to us throughout our day.
It means participation. It’s not just being “knowers of the word” but it’s being “doers of the word.” It’s allowing God to activate something in us, and participating in the kingdom work around us.
This could be volunteering or leading a Bible study, but it could also be being an active participant in your workplace for the glory of God, it could be being the best employer or teammate or mom or sister someone has ever had.
It means contributing. That’s the purpose and call on your life.
You have something unique to contribute to the world, and we need it. We need your worship, we need your business idea, we need your family.
When you have established a deep, intimate fellowship with Jesus you have the ability to have and sustain fellowship with others. And it looks very similar to your fellowship with Jesus.
Because you’re disciplined in sharing your burdens with Jesus in prayer, you can be disciplined in sharing your friend’s burdens when she is desperate for someone to pray with her.
Because you’re disciplined in participating in God’s Kingdom work every day, you can easily be disciplined in stepping up to lead that Bible study and participate in the local church.
Because you are eager to let Jesus tell you of the contribution you were specifically designed to make in the world, you’re ready to go out and contribute what you have to offer to a world in need.
So back to our cold February night, our desire to stay in, watch our show, eat some snacks and skip out on the whole “seeing people” thing.
It feels kind of selfish now, doesn’t it?
You have so much to give and to offer to other people when you have a fellowship with Jesus. Start being disciplined in spending time with Him, and watch how it impacts your relationships.
And want to know the best part?
While God establishes a fellowship with you, He is also establishing a fellowship with others. When you come together in community, you get to learn and grow from those people and their relationship with God.
So not only are you going to get to share, contribute, and participate with others, but they’re going to share in your burdens and successes, they’re going to contribute to your life, and they’re going to participate alongside you.
-Do you feel like you share your life with Jesus? In what areas is this difficult for you?
-How is God calling you to participate in your community and how can you show up for that role?
-What is one practical way you can make an effort to step into deeper community in your life?
After reflecting and journaling on how God is calling you to participate in your community, make a plan. Consider what contribution you have to make to your community and make a plan to act on it.
God thank you for creating the desire in us for fellowship, and for desiring fellowship with us. Help us to be disciplined and active in our participation in our communities this week and disciplined in spending time with You. We want to share our whole lives with you. Amen.
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