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Fellowship Is A Matter Of Choice

Fellowship Is A Matter Of Choice

     Many are deeply confused when it comes to fellowship. Perhaps this is due to the vagueness of the term as it is commonly defined.   Upon looking up this word we find fellowship by definition is: friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests: Is it possible I am missing something here?   Association defined: a group of people organized for a joint purpose. Cannot one be “in association with” another person without being in fellowship? For instance, many a man is in friendly association with his barber for the purpose of getting a haircut.   The barber is on one side of this association (to provide the service of cutting hair). The customer (to get his hair cut) is on the other side of the association.   Is this association fellowship?  
     It is indeed true that we are all participants in life together and individually. But we had no choice in this as we were born and ushered into life by actions of others. In fact, it is the nature of humanity to procreate. In Gen. 1:28 God Commanded Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful, and multiply”. This was “passed on” to their offspring, and before long the world was populated.   From this standpoint, all humanity is “in this life together” but not always in fellowship.   All humanity at some point has good times and bad times. We all suffer pain and discomforts, and we all will face the end of life, which is death.  

   However, we must not concede that this life is all there is. Not all will spend eternity together. While we participate in life, we are presented with multiple choices which will alter the trajectory of our lives.   What we choose determines the outcome of our lives. For instance, if we choose to use drugs and alter the natural regulatory function of the brain, we may likely become “enslaved” to the drug and become addicted.   If on the other hand, we treat the body properly for the purpose for which it was designed, we can enjoy the fruits of our own labors which Eccl. 5:18-19 shows to be a gift of God to man in this life.   The choice is ours.
     But there is another purpose for our time here on earth. It is to prepare ourselves for that which is beyond this life. This is where fellowship becomes so important.   Luke 16: 19-31 presents a vivid picture of the outcome of souls.   On the one hand we have a “child of God” under the O.T. Law to the Jews who “fared sumptuously” every day. He was truly blessed with material goods, but failed to serve God. On the other hand, we see Lazarus, a “certain beggar” who, while deprived of the nicer things of life, yet obviously followed the Law and was pleasing to God. Both of these men were under God’s Law. Both “participated in life, and were “associated” in this life, but were not in fellowship with each other. One was not in fellowship with God. This becomes obvious upon reading Luke 16:22-23. Which of these two would you say was in fellowship with God? And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  
   From this example, we should all readily see that one MUST be in fellowship with God in order to spend eternity with Him. The Spirit had Paul warn the brethren in 1Cor. 1:10 of divisions, and admonish them to “be of the same mind”. He had reminded them in verse 9 they had been called by the gospel into “the fellowship” of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Were Lazarus and the rich man in the above example “of the same mind”?   They obviously were not, as they ended up in different places after death.   In Amos 3:3, we see the Spirit had the prophet ask Israel a question that hinges on fellowship. He asked: Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Israel, because of its sin, was at that point, not in fellowship with God. If they were in fellowship with God, would they not “be agreed” with Him and follow His Word?
     The same is expected of us today in these “Last Days”. We can be known as those who love God’s children and God as directed in 1John 5:2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. Additionally, we see in 1John 5:3 how we are to show our love for Him.   For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. If we truly love Him, we’ll walk with Him. If we cannot, or will not “walk” with God, in full accordance with His Holy Word, we cannot be in fellowship with Christ or God as 1John 1:6 clearly shows. Therefore, it is equally true per 1John 1:7, those faithful in Christ cannot be in fellowship with those not “in the light”.  
     Rather we are to help others to see the light. This was what Christ was telling the apostles in Matt. 28:18-20 as He gave them the great Commission. Christians are to follow this as well. We are to encourage others to enter into the fellowship God offers. As John was directed by the Spirit to write of the Christ, we read in John 1:4: In him was life; and the life was the light of men. We want to help them see the light so they can choose to be in fellowship with God and with us. 2Cor. 4:6 tells us that light shines in our hearts through the gospel of Jesus Christ. That light shines so that we all might see the glory of God through Christ so all can enjoy that fellowship.
     Won’t you choose to follow the Commandments of God, obey the gospel, and prepare yourself for eternity before it is too late? We want you to be in fellowship with God and with us.   The choice is yours.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ


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