Many groups of people today have a certain amount of fellowship. Members of community clubs and hockey teams usually have enough common interest to enjoy their time together. However Christians are the only people whose fellowship with each other is based on a relationship and fellowship with Jesus. The New Testament directly ties the two together. We cannot have the one without the other.
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:3-7)
If the members of the brotherhood have this relationship with God, then the group as a whole will also have fellowship with God, and direction from Him. This leaves a direct responsibility on each individual within the group to be sure that there is nothing in his or her life that would interfere with such a relationship on a group level. It is possible for hidden sin in the brotherhood to cast blight on the entire group. I have heard of testimonies to this effect from people who were part of such a situation. When finally, the individual in question yielded his life to God and confessed his sin, the group prospered in a new way.
The Bible speaks in different places of the strength there is in fellowship. When two or three Christians come together in a fellowship setting God is present. There is much power in such a gathering. Perhaps you, like me, have gone to church feeling depressed. But by the time the service was over, you marveled how your fellowship with God and your brothers and sisters had lifted your spirits. Let me repeat: There is power in brotherhood fellowship with God.
Acts 4:31 is an illustration of the power found in such joint fellowship with God. Some of the apostles had just been taken in front of the Sanhedrin because of their testimony of Jesus. They were beaten as a result, and the whole brotherhood gathered together to talk to God about it. Verse 31 states, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Several verses later the writer adds, “and great grace was upon them all.” Rather than feeling intimidated the brotherhood was strengthened and the work went forward.
We can experience the same. If we aren’t, we need to find out why. Is there sin in our midst? Is our fellowship with each other intact? Do we have a fellowship relationship with Christ? Are we putting enough personal effort into our relationships with each other and with God? Do we sense our need of God’s “shaking”?
According to the verses quoted above, our fellowship with each other and with God is reciprocal. In other words if our fellowship with each other is weak it might be because our fellowship with God is weak. And if our fellowship with God is weak it might be because our fellowship with each other is weak. This is somewhat of a paradox. But the two go hand in hand and we must pay attention to both in order to survive.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)