Living in Christian Fellowship

MEMORY VERSE: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” —Ephesians 2:19


THE sweetness of true Christian fellowship is one of the rich blessings enjoyed by the footstep followers of Jesus, those who are being crucified together with him. Christian fellowship is more than a friendship, although this is one of its elements: a friendship that is deeper and more genuine than anything the world can offer.

The Greek word in the New Testament which is translated fellowship means “partnership.” This partnership is first of all between the Father and the Son, and all his true followers are included in it. It is a partnership in the outworking of the divine plan, so much so that the Apostle Paul speaks of our being “workers together with him.” (II Cor. 6:1) We are called to be partners in the great messianic kingdom arrangements—“heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him.”—Rom. 8:17

Our partnership, or fellowship, with Christ includes the privilege of suffering and dying with him. Paul wrote that he was willing to suffer the loss of all things that he might know Christ, “and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Phil. 3:10) It is true as Paul also wrote, that it is given to us not only to believe on Christ, “but also to suffer for his sake.”—Phil. 1:29

Our lesson assignment reminds us of some of the details involved in true Christian fellowship. We are to be sympathetic and helpful toward our weaker brethren. When overtaken in a fault we are to do what we can to restore them, “in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, less thou also be tempted.”

We are to bear one another’s burdens. (vs. 2) Verse 5 reads, “Every man shall bear his own burden.” There is no contradiction here, for two different words are used in the Greek text. The Greek word translated “burdens” in verse 2 denotes a burdensome load, a load so great that one might well be crushed by it. Through encouragement in whatever way we can render it, we are to help our brethren bear these burdens, these trials.

In verse 5 the Greek word translated “burden” means, figuratively, a task of service. Every brother in our fellowship in the body of Christ has certain tasks or services to render. Each one is to bear these “burdens,” and should not attempt to shift them to others in the body. Nor would anyone in our blessed partnership be rendering proper service to another by attempting to relieve him of his responsibilities in the body of Christ.

One of the secrets of sweet fellowship among ourselves and with the Lord is for each one to make a proper appraisal of himself: “If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

Then Paul presents a lesson on sowing and reaping. If, after having dedicated our lives to the Lord we sow to the flesh; that is, follow our carnal inclination, we shall reap “corruption.” But if we sow to the Spirit, as directed by the Word of God, we shall reap “life everlasting.” But “let us not be weary in well-doing.” Paul continues, “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

This is followed immediately by the admonition to do good unto all as we have opportunity, and especially to the household of faith. Thus Paul is indicating that a true sowing to the spirit is leading a life of sacrifice on behalf of others, especially in laying down our lives for the brethren.

Our memory verse is another gem. Many suppose, erroneously, that the expression that we “are no more strangers and foreigners” is a reference to our status in the world, before we became Christians. But this is not quite the thought. Paul is addressing Gentile Christians, who through the centuries had been strangers to the promises of God to the Jews. But now they were acceptable to God through Christ.


What is Christian fellowship?

Who are the “strangers” referred to in our memory verse?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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