Fellowship - What Does It Mean?
Fellowship was not a word that was heard much in mainstream culture, until recently. But with the popularity of the Lord of the Rings movies, and especially the first movie, "The Fellowship of the Ring," the word has enjoyed a linguistic comeback. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fellowship as, "The condition of being together or of sharing similar interests or experiences." With a broad definition like this, some might say that fellowship is nothing more than hanging out or belonging to the same club. However, fellowship, in its truest form, is so much more than several people getting together in the same place for the same reason.
A good example of genuine fellowship is seen in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Frodo and the others who made up the "fellowship of the ring" certainly shared many adventures together, but their partnership involved far more than simple companionship. Because of what they went through together, they came to know each other better and on a deeper level. They formed incredibly strong bonds of friendship; and they sacrificed much for one another, often enduring hardship and, in some instances, even death.
J.R.R. Tolkien's adventure gives us a glimpse into what it is like to have authentic fellowship with other human beings. It is a picture of what Christian fellowship is meant to be. Christians are very familiar with the word "fellowship," because it is one of the reasons God created us and put us all together on this planet. God wants us to get together often to share our experiences, so that we can form solid and very close relationships and help each other through life.
Fellowship - Its Benefits
Fellowship, just as it was needed by Frodo to help him with his mission to destroy the evil ring, is also necessary for Christians to help them live godly lives and spread the gospel throughout the world. When Christians have regular fellowship with other Christians, they not only receive many benefits, but they are also given the opportunity to sacrifice for their fellow believers. Today, Christians are typically not called upon to sacrifice their lives for one another, but they can minister in other ways, such as providing comfort and compassion when someone in their fellowship is grieving over a loss; offering physical assistance to help complete a move or a home improvement project; lending emotional support to a friend who is going through a tough time at work or at home; supplying monetary relief to someone in financial need; helping a fellow believer find the inner strength to follow God's leading in his/her life; and so on.
Christian fellowship also fosters things like trust, hope, a sense of belonging, security, lifelong friendships, faith, patience, selflessness, and best of all, true, unconditional love that can only come from people who have a personal relationship with God, the Author of love. Unless you have given or received some or all of these types of benefits when you meet with others, you are not experiencing real fellowship.
Fellowship - Where Can You Get It?
Fellowship is one of God's principle purposes for human beings. That is why we all feel the need for companionship, love, and belongingness. Even humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow recognized our need for fellowship, so he sandwiched it right in the middle of his hierarchy of needs. He placed it just above our need for food and shelter, and just below our need for self-esteem and self-actualization.
We are social beings, so that is why we join clubs, organizations, and associations. However, most of the time, these special societies only provide us with temporary companionship, and once the meeting is over, we don't hear from or see any of the people until the next meeting. This is not the type of fellowship for which our souls cry out. These are not the only social experiences God wants us to have.
God created the perfect "organization" for fellowship, and that is the family. All right, none of us have perfect families, but the family unit was intended by God to provide us with daily fellowship so that we can learn to develop deep loving relationships and discover what it means to sacrifice for others. For people who have received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, their "family" extends beyond the limits of what most people consider as family. Christians are members of God's family, and there are millions of people in that family, so we now have many new brothers and sisters who are related to us by blood, Jesus' blood. Through biblical fellowship, we can travel down life's road with our new family members, and during our journey we can help each other get over the rough patches and rejoice with each other when we're riding in the sunshine.
If you are longing for this type of fellowship, join God's family today. He is waiting for you as a Father waits with open arms for his children to come into his embrace. Then He will introduce you to your new family, the church, where you will find many opportunities to fellowship with people who want to build lasting relationships with you. These are people who want to give you comfort, relief, joy, love, and all the other wonderful benefits that only true fellowship can provide.
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