OUR FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST
We live in a context of disposable and shallow relationships. It is rightly said, "People frequently struggle with the idea of relationships rooted in duty and obligation. The idea of relationship based on self-denial and self-sacrifice is disappearing." Divorce for flimsy reasons, switching over relationships according to one's convenience, hopping from one fellowship group to another, have become very normal. Stable and secure relationships are fading away. We make all efforts to widen our contacts at the expense of deepening our relationships. What are we to do in such a situation, as the people of God? What does the Word of God say?
The Apostle John makes very clear the basis of our fellowship, the reason for the failure of our fellowship and how to regain the fullness of fellowship (1Jn.1).
I. The Basis Of Our Fellowship
He shares with us about his own personal, vital and dynamic relationship with Christ (vv.1-3). He was in his father's fish business. A moment came in his life when he heard the Master calling him and his brother, to follow Him. That was the beginning of entering into an intimate fellowship with the Master. He became a beloved disciple of Jesus. He says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hand have touched, this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life, we testify to it." John had the life eternal and life-giving fellowship with His Master. Often we make the mistake of just centring our fellowship on a particular ministry, a particular person, a particular denomination or a particular Christian organisation, instead of on our Saviour.
II. Fellowship Is Two-dimensional
Fellowship is with Him and with His people. Our fellowship in Christ must lead us to be in fellowship with other believers. Christian fellowship is more than just attending the local church. It is assimilating into the Body of Christ. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia which means 'to share in common.' Our fellowship with Christ is strengthened by our loving, caring and sharing fellowship with His people. The Word of God says that "the blood of Christ purifies us from all our sins" as we walk in Him and have fellowship with His people. Therefore, our fellowship with others is not an optional addition, but a spiritual necessity.
III. Failure In Fellowship
Unfortunately, there is failure in fellowship among many of us. The cause is sin. What are the sins which cause breakdown in fellowship? Let me mention a few.
1. Sin of selfishness. Mr. Selfishness always looks for personal benefits, "What can I get out of the church, from others?" He looks for it and if he does not get it, he keeps himself out of fellowship.
2. Sin of pride. Mr. Pride is conscious of himself, his status, position, and his achievements. He wants to be on the centre stage. He may teach others, but not at all teachable.
3. Sin of pretension. Madam Pretention advises others by miles, but never practises by an inch. You do not know when she acts and when she does not act. As a matter of fact, she always acts.
4. Sin of hyper-sensitivity. Madam Hyper-sensitivity always wants others to be very sensitive to her and her needs, but she is never sensitive to others and their needs.
5. Sin of rashness. Mr. Rashness is very quick in forming opinion about others and passing comments. Some people think and talk and do, but Mr. Rashness talks and does without thinking.
6. Sin of contentiousness. Mr. Contentiousness always talks in contradiction. You say, yes, and he says, no. You say, no, and he says yes. To him two plus two is five.
7. Sin of moral problem. Mr. Moral Problem argues for anything. He is not concerned about Christian living. He wants to know issues like "Whom did Cain marry?" The issue in his life is some moral issue, which he will never admit. He covers it up with his irrational arguments.
8. Sin of over-activity. Mr. Over-activity does not sit in one place. He runs here and there and everywhere, but goes nowhere. You ask him, "How are you and your family?" He says, "Just this morning I came from Delhi and I had a wonderful seminar." You tell him, "I am asking you how you are and your family, and not where are you coming from." His reply is, "We are fine. Excuse me. I have to go as I have another seminar coming up."
9. Sin of imaginative fear. Madam Imaginative Fear always fears what others think of her. "If I get closer to others, they will come to know my ignorance, weaknesses, and shortcomings, and about my family."
10. Sin of dissension. Mr. Dissension always kindles division in the church or fellowship. He cannot tolerate unity among the believers, but thrives in disunity.
IV. The Fullness Of Fellowship
We must fulfil certain conditions laid down in the Word of God.
A. "Walk in the Light" (v.5). Light symbolises righteousness. We must make all efforts to walk in righteousness as God is righteous. We must have right relationship with Him through Christ, and with the enabling of the Holy Spirit, be in right relationship with others in the Body of Christ.
B. "If we confess our sins..." (v.9). When we confess our sins in repentance to Him as he assures us, He will forgive us our sins because He is faithful and just, and gives us His grace to be in right relationships and to deepen our relationships.
C. "Your joy becomes complete" (v.4). Beloved, you and I need encouragement from each other; you and I need to be accountable to each other to grow in Christ; there is a great power when we pray together; you and I are obligated to build up each other; and when we are in fellowship with Christ and His people, His church will be edified and grow.