Had a great morning yesterday teaching at a local church in Ohio, USA. The worship was great, the spiritual atmosphere was terrific, the offering was taken up after a young person spoke and she did such a terrific job you just want her to keep going. She was electric, alive, and believed what she was sharing. The teaching was well received. I believe God was honoured. Then we had a fellowship lunch. I use the word “fellowship” lightly.
I sat with a young man and his family (mom, wife, two kids) and asked him about his journey with Jesus and his connection to the church. Everyone joined in and it was amazing. It was true fellowship because we were talking about Jesus and how amazing He is and all that He has accomplished for us, in us, with us, through us. There were a few side conversations with those around us as well. All good. Then, as the kids got restless and the food had disappeared from the plates they got up to take care of the young ones. I sat. I simply sat. No one approached me, those beside me did not begin conversations. I sat, just sat. I have been working with this church for 8 years. But, if I had been a stranger, a first-time visitor, I would not have returned.
And, I listened to the conversations going on across the table and on both sides of me. They were talking about hair styles and where best to get hair products. And, what is the current trend in hair styles and colours. Not very edifying and certainly not fellowship. More like gossip and “idle words, non-productive words” which Jesus reminds us will be judged. So, I got up and walked to the front to pick up my Bible, Pepsi Zero, and iPhone.
At that point I was approached by a person who has been attending for years and actually plays a major “helps” role in the Sunday service. She asked if I had a minute to talk. I did. Her first concern – the fact that people don’t spend time talking to each other very often and, when they do, they don’t talk about Jesus. I was listening. I was also agreeing. It had been my experience earlier in the day. And, sad to say, my experience almost everywhere that I go regardless of the nation or the culture.
When Christians gather our focus should be Jesus and what He has done in our lives and what He is currently accomplishing, changing, adjusting, working on in us. True fellowship is not just believers talking about anything and everything. True fellowship is founded in our basic fellowship with the Holy Spirit as we share that connection with Him with other believers. And, the Holy Spirit always glorifies Jesus and draws our attention to what it is Jesus is currently doing in our lives. So, If we are experiencing true Christian fellowship we are all listening to and following the lead of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and, as we share with one another, our words and our focus will be Jesus.
In my life I have a Christian brother as a close, personal friend. He is also my accountability partner. We just spent three weeks together on holidays camping and kayaking. Each day we spent considerable time walking and talking. Each evening around the campfire we would sit and chat. Our focus was always the journey we are both on with Jesus. It was true, in-depth fellowship that glorified God and honoured what He is accomplishing in each of our lives and in our friendship together. The focus was Jesus and where we are at in our journey with Him and how He is working in our lives changing and adjusting things. And, although others may think our focus was us – it was only so indirectly. The big picture was that we shared what the Lord was doing currently in each of our lives and in our friendship and the relationship we share. That is true biblical fellowship.
Often we call our time with other believers “fellowship.” When really it is simply talking. Often it is sharing gossip and pulling others down. The topic for more senior type people is often their medical condition and the prescriptions they are taking. For men it is sports. For many it is the latest TMZ or People Magazine buzz on Hollywood stars and the latest movies. But, it really is not fellowship unless somewhere and somehow people speak about Jesus and glorify God in the conversation.
Just a thought – but a decently deep and possibly life-changing thought.