We are looking at some of the characteristics of the essential church, and one of the four marks (the second one) recorded in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 v. 42 is: ‘Fellowship’.
Now here we need to explain that word, because to most people it’s come to mean drinking coffee in a church hall after a service and talking about the weather or football. For others the word ‘fellowship’ has come to mean tea on the vicarage lawn: everyone smiling politely, and when asked “How are you?”, replying “Fine”, even though you may feel like death, or be so lonely, or so anxious, that you could cry.
Back to the Bible! The word we translate as ‘fellowship’ is not a socially polite extra. It’s an essential, dynamic of God. Why Christians even say habitually ‘and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all’. What on earth do we mean by that? Well, in the original language the word ‘fellowship’ is ‘KOINONIA’.That very word is a window into God’s world. It is used in the New Testament for sharing together in a common life – personal communion at the deepest level of human togetherness. KOINONIA is a word also used for a worshipping community, centred on God, and not itself.
Often the love of such a fellowship is expressed as giving gifts, service, money, caring, and that offering is called by the same name. In fact all truly Christian giving is a love offering -it is KOINONIA. It is the expression of the sharing of a common life together. That’s what people were attracted to in the early church. They saw a family so closely knitted together that they shared their food, their money, their tears and their joys, their prayers, their possessions, their time and even their problems. Everyone needs a family life like that, but this was no special interest group, like a super friendly society. Throughout it all, over and in it all, was the unshakeable conviction and power house that it was all in God’s presence: God the Holy Spirit, who was the core, the magnet was also the glue, the light and the joy of the fellowship. What is world-shaking about this fellowship is that it was not exclusive! It was not a closed shop. It did not exclude anyone. Anyone, and everyone, could come, providing they came through the low door of openness and repentance towards God, and trust in Jesus Messiah, the Lord.
No wonder Acts Chapter 2 ends with the words:
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 favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2: 46-47
Lord, you created me to belong to that fellowship of the Holy Spirit, for which all people yearn in their heart of hearts. Hallelujah!
Now read The Second Letter of John.