Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 2
Dealing with the topic of fellowship with God is not easy because it involves a relationship with Him. In many ways, that relationship has the same types of parameters that our other human relationships have. It really is that simple, yet what we need to consider is that we – like Moses – now have access to God’s throne any time we want or need. This was something that no one else during the old covenant could enjoy. They had to remain at a distance from God even though they brought sacrifices to Him in worship.
One thing I wanted to do in the last article (the first in this series), but failed to do, was define what is meant by fellowship, from a biblical standpoint. What does that mean? How does it look? How do I grow in my fellowship with the Lord?
The word fellowship is from the Greek word koinonia. Fellowship is communion with another individual. It can be a friendship, a deeper friendship, or the relationship that involves love, including romantic love. We commune with our friends and loved ones by being together, sharing meals, enjoying one another’s company, doing things for them, and discussing things that are important to us. People in these type of relationships enjoy one another because of some common bond, which usually includes thinking and acceptance of similar ideas and values. This commonality creates a good basis for friendship and resultant fellowship.
We all know how difficult it is to try to find something in common with another individual who is the polar opposite of us politically, theologically, or ideologically. While it is possible to find a few commonalities, it is very difficult to do and because of that, a true, deep, abiding friendship is difficult to create because the differences always get in the way.
Most of us understand this and generally only seek out friendships with people who are at least somewhat like-minded. There is already enough work associated with making relationships good, to great, to wonderful, without having to navigate all the problems that major differences can create between people.
Usually, in any good relationship, there is a give and take. Each person needs to give a bit here or there in order to create a stronger bond and deepen that relationship. While our faith in Jesus changes our legal standing from unrighteous to righteous, it also establishes potential fellowship with God. As we meet someone for the first time and learning that there are important things in common, we choose to begin to move toward that other person in order to establish a quality relationship based on a strong foundation of commonalities. As time moves on, hopefully, the relationship progresses, deepens, and solidifies. Again, this happens because both parties learn to appreciate and accept any minor differences because the similarities and commonalities are greater than those differences.
The more time we spend with people with whom we are in relationship, the greater the chances for growth. The more the relationship grows, the more love and/or respect we have for them and hopefully from them to us as well. As we get to know the person, we may even begin to take on some of their traits. This happens frequently in quality relationships, especially in marriage.
While some of this is essentially true with respect to our relationship with Jesus, there is of course, one huge difference between our relationship with Him and every other relationship we enjoy, no matter how wonderful our other relationships are with friends or loved ones. While all of our other human relationships enjoy a give and take, in truth, our relationship with Jesus does not necessarily involve the same type of give and take…on His part.
What I’m saying is that Jesus does not have to compromise with us. In fact, He won’t and He is never wrong. We will always be the student, though we can arrive to a point where we are seen more as a friend (though still a willing servant), by Him too. Essentially, our being in relationship with Jesus will always involve us giving up of our own will for His. We cannot expect Him to compromise or come around to our way of thinking. He is God, very God, while also being fully human (and because of that, fully understands what it means to be human; cf. Hebrews 4:15).
So the first step in understanding our relationship with Jesus (once we realize that we actually potentially have one with Him, that it has been made possible because of our salvation), is to realize that we are at Jesus’ disposal. We are in relationship to, with, and for Him, to fulfill His plan and purposes. It is our job in the relationship to place ourselves under His guidance, leadership, and deity. We are not (nor will we ever be) equal to Him, therefore we are subservient. It is imperative that we come to terms with this truth. The benefits are immeasurable and eternal as the Holy Spirit is able to fashion our character and personality more into His once we begin to see this.
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything, (Ephesians 5:22-24).
I’m simply noting the above Scripture to help us understand this very important truth about our position in Christ. Note Paul says that husbands, we should love our wives as Christ also is the head of the church. Jesus is the head, we are His Body (1 Corinthians 12:27). It is the head which has charge over the body because the head (brain) controls all aspects of the body. Jesus is the head of His Body, the Church. If you are part of His Body, then He has authority over you. That, like our righteous standing, will never change. He is our King, our great High Priest, our Commander. He also seeks to be in fellowship with us (Revelation 3:20).
What king ever sought out fellowship with his servants? What military commander deliberately purposed to have fellowship with those in his command? Yet, God has chosen to have fellowship with those who trust in His Son. He does so, by the way – and this is exceedingly important – because of His Son! That is the only reason He will fellowship with us, because of what Jesus has accomplished for us and on our behalf. Our faith has made that available to us individually. God loves us, but He fellowships with us because of God the Son, with whom He is well-pleased. This truth needs to be embedded on our hearts! There is no good thing in us, but because of Christ’s righteousness, God is willing to knock and come into fellowship (Revelation 3:20).
We need to understand that this is a huge part of our essential fellowship with Him. It should set the tone for us. The writer to the Hebrews points out that because of our union with Christ and the fact that He understands our frailties, we should “…draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).
However, this involves tremendous respect and reverence. It means while we have access to God in Christ, we need to be aware of our position before Him and always understand that He is God and we are not. As Christians, yes, we can enter into the throne room of God boldly, but we need to be sure we do so with respect and reverence as well, never forgetting our lower position. This lower position does not mean that God expects us to beg for things though. He expects us to ask reverently and wait for His response, gratefully accepting whatever He chooses to provide. The context of the above verse is centered around our true need for grace to help in time of need. God will help us when we ask of Him, but He will help in the way He sees fit, in a way that is for our best and for His glory…always.
Let me try to provide an example from my own life. In times past, I have begged for God to do certain things. I thought that if I begged Him earnestly, He would be more inclined to listen and fulfill my requests. What I’ve learned is that I don’t need to beg. Begging is actually a lack of faith. In fact, I find myself approaching him more in this way…
“Lord, I wonder if you would be willing to provide me with (fill in the blank)? It is certainly something I want, but in truth, if you do not want me to have it, then that is best. If you see no reason why you cannot grant this request, then I would ask you to do so. I understand that you are in control of this thing for which I am asking. I cannot see everything my request touches. Only you can. Though it seems good to me, I really have no clue if it is good or if it simply seems good. Please just let your will be done.”
Other times, my prayer is essentially the same, but much shorter because of the fact that I have come to understand that God sees my heart’s intention and I recognize that He has already made a decision. I might pray like this…
“Lord, I wonder if you would see fit to provide (fill in the blank). I understand, if this is not something you are willing to do, but I wonder if you might? Thank you, Lord for your will either way.”
I have found that speaking in this way is the way I would speak – generally – to my wife. If I have a favor to ask of her, I might ask, “Hon, I wonder if you would mind doing (fill in the blank) for me?” I’ve never had to beg my wife for anything. I’ve never had to say…
“Hon, would you please, PLEASE do (fill in the blank) for me?! PLEASE do this thing for me! PLEASE!!”
To ask my wife in such a manner would be an insult to her. I know she loves me and if she can, she will do what I ask. There are times when she will ask me to do something for her as well and I make every effort to fulfill her request. She doesn’t need to beg me and I would be insulted if she did. The way I ask (and the way she asks) portrays the fact that we have mutual love and respect for one another.
Of course, as noted, the big difference is that when we make our requests known to God, we must give Him room to say “No.” We cannot try to turn God to our will. That is not what our relationship (and especially our fellowship) with Him is based upon. Our fellowship with God is based on the righteous standing that we have because of Christ’s righteousness. This is what opens the door to our potential fellowship (Revelation 3:20) with God once we have salvation. However, that fellowship is on His terms, not ours. The first and most important concept we need to remember is that we are not equal with God (never will be!) and we are in fellowship with Him (at His behest) to get to know Him and His plans and purposes. He wishes to use us (by working in and through us) to bring the lost to Him.
It is when we partner with Him by taking on this “yoke” (Matthew 11:29) of doing His will, that we enter into fellowship with Him. The rewards of partnering with Him are then seen in the changes the Holy Spirit creates within us with the fruit Paul speaks about in Galatians 5 (fruit of the Spirit) as well as a deep, abiding, growing love for God, other Christians, and a tremendous desire to see the lost come to a saving knowledge of Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4). Fellowship with God is not directed toward self. It is God-ward.
So what have we learned? First, we have learned that salvation opens to the door to potential fellowship but fellowship is something we must pursue. Second, entering into fellowship with God is like and unlike our human relationships. We are never equal to God and always subservient to Him. Third, we fellowship with Him in order to fulfill His purposes (yoking with Him) and through that process, we become like Him in character. Change happens as we fellowship with Him through fulfilling His will.
We are not to have fellowship with God in order to get what we want from Him. We do not fellowship with God in order to see Him as the Genie in the Sky who wishes to lavish material gifts on us. We fellowship with Him because we want to partner with Him in His work. He will bring others to Him (through our efforts on His behalf), for salvation. In the process, the Holy Spirit will refashion our character so that it becomes more like His. It is to the degree by which we partner with Him in this life that we are rewarded with greater responsibilities in the next. You don’t care about fellowship with God (on His terms) now? Don’t expect much beyond salvation in the next life.
We’ll talk more about the hows, the whys, the wherefores in our next installment. I want to do that by discussing aspects of a monk by the name of Brother Lawrence, who is said to have “practiced” the presence of God. Did he actually do that? What was the end result? Should we do that? We’ll talk about it next time and if space permits, we’ll also talk about what Spurgeon has to say about fellowship with God.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: christ our fellowship, fellowship with christ, fellowship with god.