Fellowship. From the Greek koinonia meaning sharing. This is an extremely rich term that begins with the amazing fact that we can have a relationship, a sharing, with a perfect and holy God.
But further, this speaks of a wonderful relationship that results from our relationship with God, that in His body the church. Rom 3:22-26. 1 Pet 1:22. 1 John 1:7 and so many other verses talk about our relationship with one another. We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purpose by ourselves.
Conciliatory attitudes is the topic here. Dealing with differences, levels of maturity and failures. Col 3:12-15. Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
We need to get this right. These attitudes have to be cultivated and then they have to be monitored. It's not, Okay, I’m kind, done with that. They have to always be worked on and maintained - kindness, humility, bearing with one another, etc.
Acts 4:32. Woven together. Everything is rocking along just fine until someone’s behavior, isn’t just what I want and then I’m out of here. It’s all about me and my image and the way I think things ought to be. The elders don’t agree with me so I’m gone. That is not the fellowship to which we are called.
And if we catch ourselves with that attitude, it is perfectly okay for us to say I’m sorry, I over- reacted. Ephesians 4:3 says endeavor to keep the unity and bond of peace. Endeavor.
So how much can we disagree? A lot of this is about common sense. There are many things it doesn’t matter if we agree about. How many times have you changed your view on what the scriptures teach upon further investigation and growth and maturity? Common sense prevails when we know what matters and what doesn’t matter.
There are some non-negotiables obviously. Jesus didn’t come in the flesh - non-negotiable. If we can’t agree He did, or can’t agree that He is God, then we have a problem. What we believe the scripture teaches, what we believe about salvation,, about holiness, matters
3 things spoken of over and over in 1 John that we must agree upon to be in fellowship: - Convictions that we have about God - The way we treat our brethren - The behavior in which we engage
Personal conscience vs. collective participation - Rom 14-15. We have to examine everything carefully and hold onto that which is good. God couldn’t legislate every single form of behavior. Some things will fall into the realm of personal conscience, Romans 14:22. The faith you have is between you and God and is this practice consistent with what His message teaches, and then I have to draw a conclusion. And someone else has to draw their conclusion, and we can have fellowship.
Where we run into problems is with collective participation issues. What do we practice when we meet together? I don’t see an issue with that, someone says. Well there’s an issue because the scripture doesn’t teach that as acceptable. We cannot participate in practices we believe are contrary to what God teaches.
We need to develop conciliatory attitudes towards one another and cultivate and maintain them. We can work through issues that are mere grievances. Let’s not break fellowship, let’s work it out, and it may take some time, multiple conversations.
1 Cor 16:18 - For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.