Dear Friends,

I was reminded again last night how desperately our church family is missing the fellowship of regularly getting together both for and outside of worship.  This has been and continues to be a difficult time for many of us, as our times and size of fellowship activities are restricted.   Of course, this hole in our lives creates a wide range of emotions from sadness to annoyance to anger and resentment.  This reinforces the importance of fellowship as a vital function of the church and teaches us the need we have for relationships and unity with each other.  It also shows us that there is a difference between fellowship with believers and unbelievers.

The early Christians clearly emphasized the importance of fellowship. Acts 2:42 notes, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The Greek New Testament word for fellowship, “koinonia,” expresses the idea of being together for mutual benefit. Hebrews 10:24-25 shares this idea, saying, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”   That verse tells us a lot about the purpose and need for fellowship; to boost each other to greater acts of love and good works and to encourage each other in our Christian walk.

Christian fellowship is a privilege among believers enabled by God’s grace. Those who believe the gospel are united by the Spirit through the work of Christ to the Father, and that unity is the basis of our fellowship. This relationship is described by Jesus in His high-priestly prayer for His followers in John 17:23: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The “complete unity” He refers to is the oneness that Christians experience in true fellowship, oneness with each other, oneness with Christ and oneness with the Father. Just as the Father is in Jesus, so Jesus is in us, and we have unity with one another because of the uniqueness of that relationship.

That relationship is the basis of Christian fellowship. We can have friendships and relationships with unbelievers, but true Christian fellowship can only occur within the body of Christ. We are united to one another by common beliefs, purposes, and goals.  We are united to one another by our kinship with each other and with Jesus as joint heirs and children of God.  We are united to one another by our not of this world kingdom affiliation.  We know that we are strangers in this world, we know that this world and its rulers are opposed to us and we long for the time when we will be united in our true eternal home.

The importance of true Christian fellowship is that it reinforces these things in our minds and helps us to focus on Christ and His desires and goals for us. As iron sharpens iron, in true Christian fellowship, Christians sharpen one another’s faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works, all to God’s glory.  In true Christian fellowship we stand united against the “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Eph. 6:12.

Many of you believe that we as a church are taking an overly cautious approach to gathering together and requiring masks.  Others of you believe that we are not being cautious enough.  I want you to know that we hear all of you and understand your heart felt needs for fellowship.  We continue to prayerfully seek the best most prudent path through these troubling times for our church.  I believe that we are nearing the end of this latest trial of our faith and that God has used this incredible challenge for our benefit.  I longingly look forward to building our unity through increased fellowship in the near future.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike