‘Koinonia’ (Greek term in Acts 2:42, et al.), translated as:
- fellowship, relationship, association, community, communion, joint participation.
- The beneficial outcome of relational interaction with others.
Our fellowship with the saints (the followers of Christ, also called the Church) is a powerful and integral part of our being healed, renewed, and discipled in our life of faith in Christ. Fellowship, our interaction with other people through relationships is so important that 6 out of the Ten Commandments deals directly with our relations with other people (the other 4 out of the Ten Commandments deals with our fellowship with God Himself).
Fellowship is the Norm.
The individual Christian has not been equipped to do life alone, without meaningful fellowship with other believers. Certainly there are people in situations that make it difficult or even impossible to engage in frequent fellowship with others in a local church. Perhaps illness keeps them tied to their bed, or perhaps they live in a country where the church is persecuted and forbidden. Isolation is not the norm, it is the exception. Fellowship among believers is the norm.
The Bridge that Fellowship Creates.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are designed by God to have their full expression and benefit experienced within a fellowship context. One person may have a need, and instead of God providing for that need directly, He might provide for that need through a fellow believer who is in fellowship with them.
The gifts of healing, gift of encouragement, gift of faith, gift of discernment, each of these and all the other gifts are designed to deliver God’s provision by crossing the bridge that fellowship builds between the gifted and the needful.
Fellowship for Individual & Church Growth.
The early church made it a point to exercise the critically important elements of healthy church growth and healthy individual discipleship. (I have added the numerals in parentheses to indicate the 4 elements):
“They devoted themselves to (1) the apostlesʼ teaching and to (2) fellowship, to the (3) breaking of bread and to (4) prayer…
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
( Acts 2:42-47 )
Isolation from Church Fellowship.
If you have been church-hurt in the past (hurt by someone or by a group within a local church) and today you are instinctively protecting yourself from further pain by avoiding fellowship in a local church, please know that you are in a very vulnerable position. The vulnerability is in regard to the enemy keeping you disconnected from all of the protective and provisional benefits of God that He purposefully provides via the bridge of fellowship with other believers.
I know the deep pain of church-hurt, I have received it too. Unfortunately I have also dished it out, something I will always regret even though I have been forgiven by those that I hurt. I know what it is to be fully plugged-in having healthy fellowship ties with great people, in-spite of each of us having plenty of imperfections. Unfortunately I have also experienced the wilderness of isolation from frequent and intimate fellowship due to my chronic illness.
“Having church at home” for the specific purpose of avoiding fellowship with other believers, that is not church at all. (The definition of Church is itself a declaration of fellowship with others). Those who avoid fellowship due to prior church-hurt experiences—or even due to a spiritual laziness—miss out on all of the personal growth that comes through interacting in fellowship with both God and people.
For those who are home-bound due to illness or extraordinary circumstances, God meets them and provides for them accordingly, and He does so with tremendous empathy and compassion. He has a special dispensation of blessing for them.
For those who can have fellowship but choose to not engage, He may not provide for their needs (spiritual, medical, emotional, material, relational, etc.) until such time as they plug back in to genuine, frequent, and yes, pain-potential fellowship with the Church body.
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