Going Deeper into Loving Others
Share: The Heart of Fellowship
We’re glad you’re here as we enter into our discussion on sharing as the heart of fellowship. Gather up your sisters (and brothers), your Bible, your pen and journal. Let’s get started.
Father God, we praise You for Your amazing grace which pursues us and draws us into fellowship with You, Your Son and Your Spirit. Open our hearts to what fellowship means and how to share it with others as You do with us.
Read Reflection Scripture
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1John 1:3-4 NIV
What insights did you gain from the Reflection Scripture and Reflection Thoughts which helped you understand share as the heart of fellowship among Believers?
- The essential component of Christian fellowship is personal experience with God: Father, Son, and Spirit. It’s all based on the common foundation of the Trinity.
- When we have this communion with God, we desire to share it with others, so they can fellowship with us too.
- Sharing our testimony with others fills us with joy!
We write this to make our joy complete. The Greek translated as complete means: to make full, fill up; cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; fill to the brim; to render perfect (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). Sharing the testimony of our fellowship with God is one of the greatest joys we can have as a Believer.
Do you find joy in sharing your personal experiences of God with others? Why or why not?
The Reflection Scripture is two verses taken out of a letter. A good way to go deeper when reflecting on Scripture is to read it in context.
Read 1John 1:1-10
What do 1John 1:1-2 tell us about those writing this letter?
It emphasizes the nature of their relationship with “the word of life” – Jesus. They knew Him in the flesh. They saw Him, touched Him, heard Him. These are the original witnesses of the Gospel testifying.
What is the message they heard and are proclaiming to us?
That God is light. In Him there is no darkness.
What does it mean for God to be light and have no darkness in Him?
Light implies knowledge and purity. Darkness: ignorance and sin.
How must we walk to have fellowship with Him?
Walk is used in Scripture to refer to our usual way of life. Our default mode of living. To have fellowship with God we must walk in the light. Light is a picture of truth and purity. Therefore, our usual way of life must be in truth and in a pursuit of purity and holiness to fellowship with God.
The truth is all people are filled with darkness from the moment of conception. In our natural way of life we are ignorant and sin-full.
What makes it possible for us to have fellowship with Him?
When we walk in the light as He is in the light, it requires embracing the truth of our own darkness. Our sin. Our lack of knowledge and truth. Accepting the truth about who He says we are brings us to the place where we can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. He cleanses us from all sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1John 1:9 ESV
Looking at the original language of the word sin, the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon’s first definition is: to be without a share in. The remaining definitions are what you would expect, to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor.
But the first definition, to be without a share in, gives a picture of the consequences of missing the mark.
Sin keeps us from sharing in community with God and people. Sin breaks fellowship. When we sin against God and others we lose our share in the relationship.
Read 1John 1:7 again, substituting “sin” for “being without a share in.”
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all being without a share in.
What does this reading of “sin” speak to your heart?
Does it make sin more tempting? or less?
Jesus’s sharing of Himself on the cross and sharing His resurrected life with those who believe, makes the way for us to have a share in Him and others. Fellowship is restored.
This is a joy-full thing for God: Father, Son, and Spirit.
Like the disciples who wrote our Reflection Scripture shared their testimony to experience fullness of joy, bringing us back into fellowship through forgiveness of sin – returning our share in fellowship to us – completes, fulfills God’s joy. It makes Him joy-full.
Making the way for others to fellowship with God by restoring their share in Him, brings joy! Even if it causes some pain along the way.
How does it make you feel to be invited into the holy fellowship and community of God?
How is your fellowship with each member of the Trinity? Do you commune with each equally? Which are you more comfortable with? Which one is more difficult for you to relate to?
There is a growth process involved when it comes to communing with each person of the Trinity. We first come to an understanding of God as the Creator and our Father. Then at some point we recognize our need for grace and accept what the Savior did for us. Sometimes our spiritual growth stops right there. We never learn to fellowship with the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit may be the hardest one for many of us to connect with because He is solely referred to as Spirit. God as a whole is referred to in Scripture as spirit, but He has names which help us connect to who He is.
What are the names of God, which help us relate to Him on a personal level?
He is called: Father, Creator, King. These are names we can flesh out in our minds. And the Son, Jesus, actually came in the flesh. We have the gospels to help us relate to Him. But the Spirit… He can be a mystery.
What other names does the Spirit have that can help us connect with Him?
All these names are different translations of the same Greek word – parakletos – which means summoned, called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid; one who pleads another’s cause before a judge (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
He is called the Spirit of Truth in John 16:13 and is generally described by what He will do for us: guide, teach, remind.
But He is also the One who connects us to the Father and the Son. He is the One through whom Jesus stayed connected to the Father as He walked the earth.
For us now, the Spirit is the One we most need to connect with, because He makes it possible for us to fellowship with the Father and the Son. Until we come to a place of full fellowship with the Trinity, we can’t truly fellowship with others. This is the Spirit’s greatest work in us.
Prayer of Praise
Did praising God as Friend impact your understanding of fellowship and your relationship with Him?
In the Word
This week we explored the act of sharing as the heart of fellowship with God and the church.
Read Acts 2:42
The activity of the early church was devoted to the apostle’s teaching (Bible study), fellowship, the breaking of bread (Communion), and prayer.
What does fellowship mean to you?
We saw the Greek translated as fellowship is also translated as participation and share. To fellowship is to share.
What are things we share in fellowship?
- Our testimonies of our personal experiences with God, as we saw in the Reflection Scripture.
- Our spiritual gifts for the building of the church.
- Our possessions, so no one in the community is in need.
- Our challenges, doubts, and fears, so others who have gone before us can provide encouragement during trials.
Participation in the gathering of Believers involves sharing our lives, our time, and our energy. We will also have to lay down pride and judgment to offer grace and compassion.
Fellowship is a devotion to doing life together and is in addition to Bible study, Communion, and prayer. Fellowship can happen during those three, but it is a also a unique practice of Jesus’s disciples.
Read Matthew 28:16-20
We established Jesus’s authority behind His calling us to go and make disciples. His authority over heaven and earth is our authorization and the driving force behind our going and making disciples of all nations in His name.
We looked at the deeper meaning of the words in the process of making disciples. Baptize meaning a prolonged or repeated submersion or pickling in the character of Father, Son, and Spirit, not just speaking the names over a new disciple in the making.
We even wrote out the directions for making disciples using “pickling” for baptize and “character” for name:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, pickling them in the character of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Does looking into the original language change your understanding of what it means to baptize and make disciples? Explain?
How do sharing and fellowship come into the process of making disciples in the character of Father, Son, and Spirit?
Pickling people in God’s character to make disciples requires the fellowship of more mature Believers who have walked with Him for a while. Submerging or surrounding those being made into disciples calls for the continual outpouring of love, grace, mercy, compassion, correction, rebuke, guidance, etc. What He has done for us, we do for them.
It is a long-term process. The first step can be the dunking or sprinkling or pouring of water on the one being baptized and speaking the names Father, Son, Spirit over them. From that moment, they give the church the authority or permission to begin making them into disciples. Pickling them in the apostle’s teaching, sharing in common community based on a personal relationship with God, regular participation in Communion and prayer. But really, no water is needed.
Fellowship becomes an integral part as more mature Believers steep new Believers in the grace they’ve received. We teach one another. We worship together, remembering our fellowship with God through Communion. In the sharing of fellowship, we all grow as disciples.
This is the purpose of fellowship within the church. Making disciples.
Read 1Peter 2:4-10
Who does this Scripture tell us Believers come to?
Jesus the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in the sight of God.
What are those who come to Him called? What does that make us?
We too are like living stones, little Jesuses, rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight.
What does it mean to be a living stone like Jesus?
Disciples are to be like Jesus, willing to sacrificially share our lives with others so they might come to salvation through our acts of sharing.
The Word says Believers, as living stones like Jesus, are being built into a spiritual house. What does that mean to you?
Many disciples are built into a single spiritual house, or more accurately a home. In Greek, the word translated as house is one which is occupied with a family (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). It is not just a structure, but one in which people live and relate to on a daily basis.
We are being built into a spiritual home to be a holy priesthood, so we can offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus.
In the Introduction to Share, we learned sharing is a sacrifice pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16) and we are called to be living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). Here again we have this connection to sacrificial sharing as being an integral part of discipleship.
This passage describes God’s people as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation belonging to God. We are a diverse group who in Christ become a new race, with a new mission, and a new Kingdom for the purpose of proclaiming the excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness into light!
We come together to share our lives as a spiritual home of radical friendship.
Kay Warren is the wife of pastor Rick Warren, who wrote The Purpose Driven Life. They had a son who suffered from clinical depression from childhood and ultimately committed suicide at the age of 27. Here is what she said in a recent interview about the church and how it should respond to those who are mentally ill:
The church is to be a place of radical friendship. … We in the west think of friendship as, “Oh, I like you; you like the same things I do, we can be friends.” And that is so far from biblical friendship.
Biblical friendship starts with the way that Jesus radically loved us when we had nothing in common with Him; when we were going in the complete opposite direction and God friended us when we were really furthest away from Him. And His church is to be a model of that radical friendship.
Disciples of Jesus are called to build a spiritual home and be holy priests who minister to one another out of loving obedience, because God befriended us. He brought us out of the darkness into the light, and we want to bring others into the light of His grace too.
This study of fellowship and sharing had me heaping question upon question until I felt like a mountain of mess. Who do I share with? Who do I call friend in my life? How much do I share with acquaintances, family, my spouse? What fellowship is set apart… holy? Does getting a pedicure with my oldest friend where we talk of our children and daily life constitute godly fellowship?
With the questions in the back of my mind I walked to the local luncheonette to grab something to eat. As I waited someone I knew walked in behind me. She’s a friend on my social media, someone I see maybe once a month around town, a friendly acquaintance at best. We shared pleasant hello’s, the busy of our lives, and somehow the conversation turned to kids.
In a brief lunch encounter we shared parenting struggles we each face with our young adult children. Our common ground floated to the surface and we found ourselves encouraging one another. With my lunch in hand I turned to go and she said, “Now I know why we bumped into each other today. I needed this conversation.” As I walked back to work my mountain of questions moved.
When it comes to the heart of fellowship it’s all about the heart. The who, what, and when isn’t up to me. God orchestrates a beautiful symphony of fellowship when I trust Him and share with those He places in my path. As I surrender to His will in fellowship, I receive the blessing of being an instrument in His hand.
In fellowship with God, we become spiritually bound in our sharing of a common belief and experience in Christ. We are many who become one through sharing our stories and lives for His glory!
Stacy has always taught you can’t be a Christian on a deserted island – meaning alone, in isolation. Of course, I’ve never really liked that teaching, taking things literally like I do at times.
If you’re on a deserted island, God put you there. And if you are a Believer you can fellowship with the Trinity. If you aren’t a Believer, He might use your time on the island to get your attention.
But when I came to this lesson on share as the heart of fellowship, I began to see the teaching behind her metaphor as only too true.
You cannot be a disciple of Christ without sharing in community with other Believers. It’s not good for you, you won’t grow as a disciple, and you won’t be participating in the making of disciples.
Now, I’m not saying you have to be a member of a traditional church, but you do need a community of Believers to share with and fellowship with. Just like Jesus the Living Stone is part of the Trinity, we little living stones must be part of a spiritual community, too.
Read Proverbs 27:17
What is this proverb teaching?
Just as it takes a piece of iron to sharpen iron, it takes a person to sharpen another person, make them keen, intellectually alert (Merriam-Webster’s).
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary’s definition of fellowship begins: Communion with God… All our fellowship must begin and be born out of our relationship with God. With Him as each individual’s primary focus in their interactions with one another, Believers can and do have an instrumental role in sharpening each other’s faith.
In what ways do Believers hone one another’s faith through sharing fellowship?
- Provide accountability.
- Help one another identify gifts and encourage the use of them.
- Practice grace and forgiveness.
- Tell our experiences with God.
- Use our gifts to build the body of Believers.
- Provide for one another, showing the generosity of Christ.
- Encourage one another.
Believers improve one another’s discernment and awareness of potential pitfalls in our lives and the lives of others.
Believers cannot relate to anyone, even unbelievers, apart from their communion with God. It’s just the way it is. It is how Jesus interacted with tax collectors, sinners, and yes, even Pharisees. He only did and said what the Father told Him through their communion via the Holy Spirit (John 5:19, 30).
Read 2Corinthians 6:14
What is this verse telling us?
We are warned to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers because light has no fellowship with darkness. We have no share with one another, so we should not become closely connected to them in a relationship.
However, there are times through family or work relationships where Believers are bound in community with unbelievers. In these relationships, can one man be sharpened by another, when one is a Believer and one is not?
In our interactions with unbelievers, we do it like Jesus in communion with the Father via the Spirit.
It is through our relationships with unbelievers we may encounter the conviction of the Spirit revealing something dark in us. Are we being judgmental? arrogant? or being drawn into an activity which is in opposition to the light? The Spirit’s perspective helps us to fellowship rightly with those who are far from God.
Interacting with unbelievers, sharing fellowship, requires not only attention to the Spirit and His perspective, but also to the Father and Son’s viewpoints.
The Father’s perspective reminds us of their spiritual condition: dead, blind, lost. Our fellowship with unbelievers should take into account their lostness. Our hearts should be moved with compassion and we we should hear the call of the Father to love them as He does.
The Son’s perspective will always bring grace into the relationship. He speaks truth in love and doesn’t expect unbelievers to think, act, or reason, as Believers. Grace loves them where they are and listens for the Father’s instructions in how to relate to them, trusting He will bless them with faith at the proper time.
Believers can grow in grace through fellowship with unbelievers as long as we keep close communion with God and His different perspectives: Father, Son, and Spirit.
Seeking Perspective through Examen
The Examen exercise we practiced and will continue to practice weekly through our Going Deeper into Share study, centers on the different perspectives of the Trinity.
What was your experience in practicing Examen? Was it difficult? easy? How would you describe it?
What did you learn about the fellowship you experienced this week by prayerfully considering the Father’s perspective? the Son’s perspective? the Spirit’s perspective?
How did you end your time of Examen?
The whole church is built and grown through the sharing of fellowship based on our communion with God. Sharing our lives, our testimonies, our worship, and our gifts, all for the glory of Him who radically befriended us to bring us back into fellowship with Himself.
Our next Going Deeper into Loving Others through the faith practice of Share is sharing our Stories, our testimonies of what God has done in our lives.
Click here for PDF of the homework: Share Week 2 – Stories – Homework
We will explore what it means to proclaim what we have seen and heard, like the first disciples did for us.
Lord, continue to lead us and grow us in the grace of sharing as a means to loving others in Your name.