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Pure fellowship (2)

April 2013 | by Owen Batstone


Our churches must shine with the light of pure fellowship. We must have something real, living and satisfying to give others; otherwise what is the point of being the church?

If we’re not going to be light to the lost, then let’s shut the doors; perhaps some churches should have closed years ago!

     ‘Forget God’, the world says. ‘Come back to me, back to the territory of Belial!’ But the lost should see that the church has something better than the world.

Spiritual concern

I know many struggling believers. The ministry they are under is dull and bland. They turn to members of their congregation for help and find they have turned to gossips and lovers of yesterday’s TV programme more than lovers of Jesus. The words they hear never go higher than the X-factor.

     How can such ‘fellowship’ help anyone? If you claim to be saved, do you know how individuals in the congregation are doing, so that you can pray for and draw them on in spiritual things?

     Is your door open? Do you know where people are flagging? Do you send them texts? Or Facebook or tweet them? We’re meant to be a unit. Let’s face it, most people around us find comfort in TV, books, beer and sex, but not in the church. We need to change this!

     Are we too busy talking about our own individual emphases and how church needs to be done our way? Do we only rarely talk about Jesus the Saviour? If believers are not pro-Christ, then they’re no help to anyone.

      So let’s ask ourselves some questions: When together, are we light? Are we the temples of God and all the things Paul says believers are (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)? Are we those who others come to for fellowship? If someone had a spare 20 minutes and wanted fellowship, would they come to you?

     If not, it’s time to repent and change. Did you know that unrepentant people make terrible friends and ruin pure fellowship? And if we’re not lights individually, then we’re not light together.

     Consider what happens in unrepentant married couples? They become sidelined from the service of God, at a time when people need them to be light. If we’re falling apart in our relationships, then we can’t be light   

Marriages of light

Also, other couples are influenced by their example. It’s important to remember that attitude is contagious. If your marriage is not healthy in Christ, do you realise how much you are hurting your church?

     Only gospel people have marriages of light. What an incentive to know, if you’re married in the Lord, that you have been given a daughter or son of God as a marriage gift!

     A healthy, fellowshipping marriage has Jesus in the middle. It’s good practice to ask your spouse, ‘What do you need from me? Am I there for you?’ And to listen to what they say. Pure fellowship must have the cross at the centre.

     We must come to Christ daily; we cannot be light without him. Christianity is walking with him. If you haven’t come to him today, you will soon get bored of those dearest to you.

     You’ll not have time for them anymore, and you won’t have time for church. Or, perversely, you will end up worshipping them, because you’ve removed God from the picture.

     How did sexual immorality start in the Corinthian church? It was when ‘Jesus and him crucified’ went out of the window (1 Corinthians 2:2). Perhaps the Corinthians came home from work and, instead of seeing family as their sphere for showing Christ’s love, they saw family members as irritating and annoying.

     Fights started. Humility was lost. They rolled their eyes and said, ‘Of course I’m angry; I have to live with you! You’ve made me turn out this way!’

     This cannot happen, if you keep close to Jesus every day; you’re not an exception to that rule. You must practise pure fellowship at home.

Power of the cross

You have no circumstances which the cross can’t reach. You’ve not plumbed any depths of unhappiness that are beyond the power of the cross. Your job isn’t so hard, your spouse so difficult, your friends so unreliable that Christ’s grace is unable to bless.

     Children of light in churches of light remember that all good things come from above, because they were purchased at the cross of Christ.

     They wake up each day and thank God for life and all things in it. They love the lost and seek to win them. They see them, not as ‘projects’ for conversion, but as souls to be loved.

     It’s time for believers to realise what they are — the temples of the living God. ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’ (2 Corinthians 6:17). This is priestly language (cf. Leviticus 21:6-7).

     Paul is saying that believers are like priests who shouldn’t go near unclean things. We should avoid darkness and fight for fellowship.

     He is also quoting from Isaiah 52:9-12, the Bible passage immediately before the song of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12), who will bring comfort to Jerusalem and salvation to the nations, even as he is rejected and disfigured.

     You see the price the Lord paid to purchase his people. Christ was rejected by the world, so that believers can be saved. And we must come out of the world, in order to follow Jesus.

     You can pray for revival until the cows come home, but if you haven’t spoken to your spouse for a week, forget it! Start fellowship at home!   

Precious promises

But look what people centred on the cross can experience: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people’ (2 Corinthians 6:16).

     Look too at what is on offer: ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’ (2 Corinthians 6:18). He will be our Father, and we shall be his children.

     In other words, we can enter into the filial relationship that the Son has with the Father. The purpose of pure fellowship is to bring us ever deeper into the glory of God, as it spills over to believers.

     May we unite around Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, knowing more of the Father! That’s a church! When we get that, our family, friends and work colleagues will ask, ‘What is the hope that is in them?’ And we will say, ‘It is all of God. Sola deo gloria!’ That’s why we must repent of anything that spoils pure fellowship.

Owen Batstone

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