This post came from a response I made on a discussion group
I was surprised, however, by what I found in Vines. the term "fellowship" comes from words that mean "to join" "to couple", "partnership", "to be a partaker of." And so here's where my mind wandered... Please, please, give me some feedback on this! If fellowship implies belief, and joining together, a partnership in the gospel, could it be that we are joined, as in a marriage covenant? We are joined to Jesus, of course, but because you are joined to Him, and I am joined to Him, we find fellowship with each other. So when I say I have "gone to to church" but did not find fellowship there, doesn't that imply that I spent my morning in a place with people who have not been joined or who have not become partners or partakers of the good news of Jesus Christ? or does that simply mean we didn't believe the same things and they weren't friendly? How automatic is "fellowship" and what should it be based on?
It is too often true that we use the term "fellowship" in the sense of "believing the same things" or "friendliness". If it feels right then we assume that it must be fellowship, huh?
The fact is that we have been called into the "fellowship" of the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
The fellowship is a reality ... it is the fact of being joined, of being truly connected with God through His Son. Peter calls it being
...partakers of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4
We were at one time outside the life of God, but now we have been brought inside. We are joined.
So, what are we looking for? An agreement in terms of verbiage? Often. A sense of friendliness? Usually. But we can also find THIS in various clubs, groups, and organizations. I think that I understand this just as much as anybody else since I have also looked for "fellowship" upon that basis.
But we have been brought into HIS fellowship! Paul suggested what is to be looked for ... and it all revolves around the realities found through Christ.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Philippians 2:1-2
Looking for that which is found IN CHRIST. If there is any of THIS we are to set our attention on it. What "love" do you suppose it is that we are to "maintain"? The wording may escape us because the translation has been mixed with religious understanding which has in turn made the translation to be "correct" and yet often misleading.
But look at the summary of the statements: "If there is anything of Christ among you ...". This forces the focus of the rest of what Paul said.
B. said it well when he stated:
This does not mean building religious organizations which cater to our own particular doctrines or ways of seeing things but rather refusing everything form of fellowship but SEEING AND KNOWING CHRIST IN EACH OTHER! B
Is there ANYTHING of Christ among us here? If there is, then let's remain intent upon this. Do you see how the question forces our thoughts to consider the only true "fellowship" among us? Do you see how quickly we are able to abandon the walls we have often tried to erect among ourselves? The question would be meaningless to us if Christ was NOT in us because the only thing we could understand it to mean would be the usual sort of thing that ties groups together.
My friends, God has been actively working among His people to cause them to drop those "ties" that used to bind, and has been continually bringing that sense that we are truly aliens in this world so that we keep looking for the reality behind the appearances.