What is Fellowship?
In previous posts, we have discussed that the church is on mission to spread the gospel, affecting those who have not believed in Christ to grapple with the realities of the cross and either accept Jesus as their Savior or reject Him, and creating in the believer the likeness of Jesus Christ. We have also examined that the early church accomplished this mission through various acts including prayer, breaking of bread, the apostle’s teaching, and fellowship. It is this last point that we will examine in depth in this post.
To a degree, many churches have members that seem to get along with each other quite well, but is this truly the fellowship discussed in Acts? Fellowship is given to the church to accomplish more than merely unity or a sense of belonging (it does accomplish these things too). The gifts of God are not reproducible by man, so this fellowship must be something that the world cannot create. Our fellowship must be supernatural; after all it is caused by God's working in us.
Where Fellowship Comes From
1 John 1:1-4 says,
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
From this passage we are reminded of the primacy of the fellowship of the God Head. The fellowship that Christians experience in the church is a picture in part of the greater unity experienced fully by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we seek to maintain unity as a body it is a God-glorifying expression. We should seek fellowship, not as a means to feel better, but as a way to demonstrate who God is.
This fellowship is not something that we can produce in our own strength. This passage in 1 John tells us that it is a result of the eternal life being manifested to us. This means that if someone does not possess this eternal life, he cannot experience the fellowship that God has for His church. This point reminds us of the importance of the Gospel in the life of the church and believer. It is not our common interests, hobbies, or backgrounds that give us fellowship. True, Godly fellowship is only a result of the Gospel.
The Results of Fellowship
Fellowship results in Believers spending quality time with one another filled with the Spirit. These interactions ought to result in people pushing one another to be transformed into the image of Christ. This fellowship won’t necessarily mean that everyone will always get along. Often those who are pushing us toward Christlikeness will be revealing our sin to us, which can ruffle feathers.
Fellowship is also a means of evangelism. When unbelievers see a group of people as diverse as the Body of Christ mingling and growing together, it will cause them to ask about the source of such love. Having unity in the church also demonstrates to the world the unity that is found in the Trinity. Our fellowship brings God glory by showing His nature to a blind world.
How Music Creates Fellowship
Music has an inherent ability to join people together. Even to listen to music at a concert is a unifying activity as everyone focuses together on the notes being played. If instrumental music can bring people together in thought and action, singing has an even greater effect. This is seen even on a national scale as America tunes in to the super-bowl and listens to the national anthem or as a stadium of fans sing together. Corporate singing unites people by allowing them to sing the same words in synchronized rhythms and to unifying melody and harmonies. There have even been studies that show that when a group sings together their heart rates align.
We would do well to take note of the natural ways that music can unite all people, but we must also recognize the importance of God’s command to the church to sing. When we sing as a congregation not only are we uniting our breaths, words, and voices, but also our hearts and minds around the truths of God’s Word. We are essentially reciting and memorizing these truths together. This also allows us to be accountable to one another for the truths that have been sung; we have spoken them in one another’s presence. Singing congregationally is also a way to care for the souls of one another as we point each other to the gospel through our songs.
All Scripture is quoted from the ESV.