IS IT FELLOWSHIP OR NOT?
In all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you just stand firm in the Lord. I Thess. 3:7-8
Two things are true. 1.) If my life is going well but those I love are struggling with their faith, I can not fully enjoy my good times. And, 2.) If I am being tried by fire but those I love are alive to Christ, my valley experience is eclipsed by the joy I feel as I watch them soar.
Paul has been beaten, thrown in jail, but when he hears that the new believers at Thessalonica are standing strong in the Lord, his spirit is infused with new energy. He puts it well. “Now, I can really live!”
Is this not the essence of fellowship, that I am energized for having spent time with those who love Jesus with an intensity that is contagious? By being together, we mutually inspire each other to be bold in our faith. As we share stories, I am more willing to move to the edge of a new precipice in faith, all because I walk arm in arm with someone else who is doing the same thing. This must be what God dreamt of when He urged me to live in community!
I think of the groups of Christians who will meet over lunch today. One may drain the life out of the other. Or, both may be spiritually malnourished so their relating has little to do with Jesus. Their flesh has caused the attraction. Gossipers love gossipers. Angry people want an angry audience. Despairing souls want to air their pain to another who also lives in hopelessness.
The process of choosing spiritual journey partners is critical, for I give them license to deeply affect my life. My associations need to be built on Spirit connections, where we share a voracious appetite for the things of heaven. What spills out in our conversations sparkles with the glory and light of the Spirit who indwells us, the One who is stirred by our passion.
I love hanging out with those who are in love with You and think nothing of living on the edge, even if it costs them. Amen