Fellowship – A call to encourage, confront, and spur one another on to good works
Can I be honest with you? I hate COVID-19. COVID-19 has made it almost impossible for all us to have meaningful relationships outside of our immediate families. It has been really difficult for us after moving to a new place and not knowing many people. It has been such a joy to meet as a congregation again on Sunday morning and a discipleship group on Tuesday mornings. This last weekend Kayleen and were blessed to be able to have a parking lot picnic with a family and then go disc golfing with them and the following night have a game night with another family. It feels good to see people face to face and to laugh with one another.
We as humans were created for community. When it is taken away we long for it. I do believe the Christian community is unlike any other. Christian community should lead to fellowship. Last time I wrote on fellowship I defined it as a group of believers intentionally living, practicing, and teaching the one another commands in scripture.
Hebrews 3:12-13 and Hebrews 10:24-25 are two verses that are commonly used when talking about fellowship. David Mathis in his book Habits of Grace calls them “the twin texts of Christian fellowship.”
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
These verses give us many insights on what fellowship should look like and how it plays out in our everyday life. The first insight is that fellowship happens when we meet together. The million-dollar question is how does fellowship happen in the midst of Covid? I think this is where we need to be creative. This may mean we need to utilize technology to be in
fellowship with others. I understand that Zoom and WebEx are not the same as face to face, but they are good alternatives if you can’t meet. It could include utilizing the warm weather to distance outside and have a conversation with another person or family.
This verse has led me to ask if we sinning if we are not meeting together? I believe this verse is teaching that neglecting to meet together is someone who is intentionally not meeting with the other believers. This means if the government asks that gatherings of a certain size should be suspended then we are not in sin if we don’t meet together. In this case we are not intentionally skipping the gathering but obeying the authorities to help stop the spread of a virus. The same is true if one is in an at-risk population. They are not neglecting to meet intentionally but choosing to stay home for safety reasons.
The second insight is fellowship is a means of protection from falling away in the faith. Therefore, fellowship must include confronting sin. The purpose of encouraging one another is so that we don’t fall away. I have read many articles talking about how sin has been increasing over the last few months. Domestic abuse and pornography are on the rise because sin can hide when fellowship is forsaken. It doesn’t even have to be a heinous sin. How many hours do we spend entertaining ourselves with technology? Is technology causing us to have an unbelieving heart and leading us to fall away?
I recently read a Barna research study that said 33% of all Christians have stopped attending church during Covid. This survey counts watching online sermons as attending church. That is a scary statistic, but they have a generational breakdown. 26% of Boomers, 35% of Gen X, and 50% of Millennials have stopped attending church in any form. These verses tell us to encourage each other so we don’t fall away. It becomes hard to know who is still with us and who has left.
The final insight is we stir one another up to love and good works. What can you do to stir one another up to good work? One of the guys in the Tuesday morning discipleship group challenged us to share our faith one of the weeks. This stirred us up to the good works of evangelism. What good work can you challenge someone to? Maybe it is as simple as a way to love their spouse or family better. Maybe it is challenging them to serve someone this week. The good work doesn’t have to be large! A good way to fight sin is to do good works for others. That will take your mind off yourself and focus it on other people.
1. Have you been neglecting to meet with one another? If so, what can you do to meet with others? (this includes technology)
2. Are there any sins in your life that have been growing during Covid? Who can you call and confess them to? Fight sin before it turns into something you can’t defeat!
3. Is there someone you need to confront? Check your own heart and lovingly confront and restore them!
4. Call someone and talk about this week’s sermon.