Step Towards Transformation
No Man is an Island.
“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
This is a quotation from the meditations of John Donne (1572-1631). Donne’s Meditations concern man’s spiritual and social functioning, especially with regard to illness and death.
Though I do not subscribe to his views on religious interconnection, I find this quote apt for this week’s study on fellowship.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
A. THE PURPOSE OF FELLOWSHIP
The fellowship of Christians together is very important, for it is in our unity together that…
B. CONDITIONS OF FELLOWSHIP
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves”(Rom 12:10).
Without a basic trust there can be no fellowship. The depth of fellowship will vary according to the depth of commitment.
‘Agape’ is a one-way or unconditional love, which loves ‘in spite of’, not ‘because of’. Such a commitment therefore will not be affected by the other person’s inconsistent behavior.
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Our fellowship with one another is founded in our common commitment to Christ.
” …And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn 1:3). See also Phillippians 2:1,2.
Our fellowship embraces the need to be open, honest and truthful with one another. This at times may mean:
There should be no hidden motives of self-gain. Our desire should be to give, not to get.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others” (Phil 2:3,4).
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12,13).
Life involves more than physical life. It also includes our material possessions, our personal interests and preferences, etc. (Jas 2:15,16). This also means a willingness to openly share of one’s self. We can only know people to the extent they are prepared to reveal themselves.
C. FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH MEANS.
There were three stages of development in their fellowship in Acts 4:32 – firstly, they were of one heart (spirit), then they were of one soul (mind), and then followed the physical expression of having all things in common.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need” (Acts 2:44,45).
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them” (Rom 16,3,4).
“You know that the household of Stephanos were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints..” (1 Cor 16:15).
“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Phil 4:14).
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave us much as they were able, and even beyond their ability”(2 Cor 8:2.3).
“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you” (3 Jn ). See also Hebrews 13:2).
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1Ths 2:8). See 2 Timothy 3:10-14.
D. RESULTS OF FELLOWSHIP
The results of fellowship in the early Church were:
Through this study I now understand the importance of having fellowship continually with other Christians. Today I commit myself to being a part of a group of believers to whom I will give my loyalty, my love and my service.