When we in church world think of fellowship, we think of getting together over either food or ice cream or non-alcoholic beverages (at least in my church world lane) and enjoying one another’s company. Yet, if fellowship stays at this level, then the church bears little difference to the world–we’re just getting together because we have shared interests in a number of avenues.
In 1 John 1:3-4, we see a deeper level of fellowship:
… that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The tie that binds all believers is Jesus Christ. The apostles saw and heard Christ up close and so they passed along what they learned to them so they would be one not only with them but with Christ Himself. So with us, our fellowship is not geared simply toward news, sports, weather, and hobbies. We come together in that koinonia fellowship to encourage and edify one another in Christ.
And this does not mean mere affirmation, but also accountability. At our Church Council last night, I read this passage from Galatians 6:1-3:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Those of us as believers who see fellow believers straying should stay in their lives to help them come back. They may be gone from church for multiple weeks. You may hear something in their conversation. Whatever it may be, God gives His people a spiritual antenna to help one another in a spirit of gentleness to keep from straying.
See, your note, your phone call, your meeting over coffee–that could be the connection needed to keep your brother or sister from making a catastrophic decision that will mark their life for life.
This is the other side of fellowship. It’s not meddling (at least it shouldn’t be). It is helping them stay on the path that God has for them according to His Word.