“We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because we loved you so much.” – 1 Thess. 2:8
This verse from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica has become a bit of a life verse for me. For years I’ve used it to intro Annual Reports, congregational letters, and even personal missives. I think it shows the result of good Christian fellowship. And it’s a verse we could all learn a lot from.
The purpose of Christian fellowship is not entertainment. Far too often churches get together for what they call Fellowship but is in fact just a time to have fun together. And while this is not wrong by any means, and can be very helpful in some situations, it is not what Fellowship is all about. Christian Fellowship’s purpose is to help one another grow. If all a church does is play games together, then we are not growing each other. Paul says that it was his delight to share with this Thessalonican church “the gospel of God.” Fellowship is about sharing the gospel with each other.
And who doesn’t need to hear the good news of Jesus’ mercy and love? If you aren’t a Christian, you need to hear it 7 times (by most accounting anyway) before you’ll consider it for your own life. If you are a Christian, then you need to hear it again and again for encouragement in your own walk and encouragement to share it with still others. The first purpose of Fellowship is to share the gospel of God.
The second purpose of fellowship, according to this verse, is to share life together. Now this doesn’t mean sharing your opinions about the weather or the latest fad, but really sharing life together. This is hardship and joy, confession and forgiveness, testimony and doubt. This is stripping away the masks that hide our true selves and revealing the “I just woke up” you to others. The second purpose of Christian Fellowship is to share life together.
How is your fellowship used? Are you just hanging out with a Christian crowd but not growing in your faith? Or are you sharing the grace of God and your very life with others in the church? The choice is yours.