19 July 2005

A Fellowship of Two

Right now I've been thinking about my perspective as a believer who is in-between the church as a building and the church as a lifestyle. I think a key to having church be a lifestyle is knowing how to walk alone.

By no means do I think we should cease assembling together when we are able to do so. On the contrary, my life wouldn't be the same without the strength I receive from worshiping with others. But I do think that God wants us to truly learn what it means to fellowship with Christ, and sometimes this must involve walking a lonely road.

An insidious way we are led astray is when the desire to find other like-minded believers ceases to become a spiritual desire. Rather it is our emotions and our poor sense of self which yearns to be around people who understand us, who will complement our walk. By itself this isn't wrong, as long as we remember that we are called to forsake our own lives and be willing to go for a time without the comfort and fellowship of brothers and sisters. This is simply the natural reality when God has called us unto Himself. It is when we find that we absolutely have to be in the company of other believers in order to have any sense of Christ that we have ceased abiding in Him as we should.

In many parts of the world believers are not able to meet together for various reasons. They may desire to, but if they cannot, how will they maintain fellowship and connectivity to the Body being unable to gather? They must know Christ as Fellowship. It is through abiding in Him that they are able to maintain connected to the Body.

On the other hand, there are those with the freedom to gather. Shouldn't they take every advantage of their liberty to fellowship at every opportunity? Of course! Thank God for our freedom and make the most of it. That's not the issue. Instead consider what your spiritual state would be like should that liberty be removed? Is your usefulness to God limited by your ability to fellowship with others? Can you maintain connected to the Body when isolated? Do you grow faint and fall away when fellowship is removed?

Many of us can maintain a sweet spirit while they are in fellowship with other believers. But when that fellowship is interrupted, how quickly they turn sour. I've even heard them acknowledge this and say things like, "My attitude is going downhill since I haven't been getting to church. I have to go back this week." Then they go back to church, feel uplifted, and their attitude improves. Unfortunately experiences like this are common for those who haven't yet learned to make Christ their lifestyle. They aren't truly walking in the Spirit, they are walking near the Spirit.

In no way does this mean we should be isolationists who avoid fellowship with other believers. However, we cannot allow the absence of such fellowship to adversely affect our walk. If time apart from believers causes us to fall away, then perhaps this is the reason we go through periods of solitude; that we may be learn to truly see and experience Christ as our Fellowship.

No comments :