From Journal Entry 8-22-09
“We make a huge mistake when we assume that fellowship takes place just because we attend the same event together, even regularly, or because we belong to the same organization. Fellowship happens when people share the journey of knowing Jesus together. It consists of open, honest sharing, genuine concern about one another’s spiritual well being and encouragement for people to follow Jesus however He leads them.” (From “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore” by Jacobsen, Wayne & Coleman))
There came a time when I was still in the Work, when I redefined for myself the meaning of fellowship. Friendship with a believer didn’t mean we also had fellowship. Both can contain times of being vulnerable, going deeper in our visiting than just surface things but friendships don’t necessarily center on God/Jesus. Fellowship suggests a deeper & more meaningful connection, but more importantly, its center is God Himself.
Why am I worrying about this? I grew weary of hearing “Oh, we had such wonderful fellowship!” and I knew, because I was there, that the visit had consisted of talking about the workers or the friends, or farming, or kids, or recipes or any number of things that were perfectly normal to talk about. But don’t say it was fellowship. Fellowship is, to me, almost a holy word. It changes lives and directions. It does something for and to everyone involved. We walk away from true fellowship with something shifted in our souls. We don’t see things quite the same as we did before. We come away with something to pray about and we can’t wait to talk to God about it. There is often an “aha” moment in true fellowship. You shared with your friend(s) where you and God were at the moment perhaps or where you longed your relationship to be. You truly listened to your friend or they listened to you and your (their) spiritual well being was of utmost importance.
Fellowship doesn’t have to be intense. It doesn’t mean you have to be having a Bible study. I think its sharing with another where God has been in your life.
Another journal entry quote from 11-7-09
From the book “Girl Meets God” by Lauren Winner. The author was detailing her relationship between herself and her father (a Jew) after she became a Christian. “He asked me not to talk about it; that he could accept it, he wouldn’t disown me or count me for dead, but that he didn’t want to, or couldn’t, hear the details. So we don’t talk much about church, or God or prayer. And when we talk about other things, a creeping superficiality marks our conversations. (Emphasis mine) I tell him about the papers I am writing for school, but I don’t speak about vocation. I tell him about decisions I make, but I never speak about prayerfully discerning God’s will for my life. I tell him about buying a new desk. I do not tell him about all the ways I am slowly turning into the person God wants me to become.” Another character in the book who also became a Christian tells about how her marriage had become somewhat surface skating.
Since my late teens, I had a very real longing for depth in my life. Determined not to live a shallow life, I prayed earnestly for God to make sure that didn’t happen. I wanted depth to my friendships and I could hardly bear it when, like the author wrote above, “a creeping superficiality marks our conversations.” As a teen and in my 20’s, mostly it meant I was only happy when the conversation was about me! It’s true! Really I think that defined to me for years whether or not a visit was profound or not. Oh boy!
Eventually, a time came when it didn’t have to be about me but something of value, something eternal. A major “aha” moment came in the last couple of years when I realized the depth I craved and was looking for in other people, was the depth of God. It’s been Him all along. “Deep calling unto deep.” Yes! “Oh the depth….” as Paul wrote. Oh the depth! The depth in me could ONLY be satisfied by the depth in Him.
I’m thankful for girlfriends that I can talk about what color to paint my bathroom, or about the new pillows for my sofa. Or what to fix for dinner. A girl needs those kinds of conversations…they are very important! Big issues are at stake here. 🙂
But true fellowship is risky and scary and worth every fear and trepidation. We NEED it. We need each other. We need to be honest and open with each other AND with God. I noticed a verse about our fellowship with Christ and with God. You can’t really have true fellowship with another person unless you have first of all had fellowship with God.
I think true fellowship within the meeting fellowship is rarer than some might admit. I remember having really good visits with a few of my fellow laborers that were very encouraging at the time. I believe some of those times were indeed true fellowship, but I also know that there were times when it was just a good visit. (Again, nothing wrong with that.) I need people in my life who encourage me to grow spiritually, to take steps of faith. I want to encourage others to go deeper, take the risk of being uncomfortable for the sake of true fellowship. There is so much to gain if we do. Let’s not just live on the surface of life; too much is at stake. People need to be heard, validated, and loved. We can bring the love and spirit of Christ into every conversation and turn it from two friends talking to two eternal souls conversing.