What is fellowship?
Koinonia is the Greek word most closely related to New Testament fellowship. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines it as “fellowship, association, community, communion or joint participation.” Koinonia embraces the idea of a close knit community where people are invested in one another.
Christian fellowship usually occurs in a small group where people can openly share their thoughts, insights and concerns with one another. Fellowship could be an “official” meeting at a set time and place or it could be two friends eating lunch together.
True fellowship, however, involves being willing to be transparent.
Transparency – oh, that can be hard.
To be transparent we must be willing to uncover and reveal the layers in our lives. You know what I mean – the hidden stuff.
When we get together, it is easy to talk about family and every day events. Often, we can come week after week or lunch after lunch and discuss Scripture and how it applies to our lives. We can sound good and be sincere about whatever topic is embraced.
However, when the conversation steers toward, “How are you doing? Is there anything you need help with? What are you struggling with?”, suddenly the walls go up and our Christian “mask” goes on.
We might mention some minor struggle in our life, but neglect to expose the huge tsunami that could totally destroy or overwhelm us if it reaches the shore.
This is not to say that we always have a tidal wave that is about to destroy us, but when we do, it is a disservice to ourselves and the people in the fellowship to hide behind the facade.
I believe fear, pride and maybe embarrassment are the prime reasons we don’t allow others to see our inner struggles.
“What would they think?”
“I’ve always been this way.”
“It’s really not that important since, ‘Don’t we all sin?'”
These are some of the excuses we give ourselves.
Scripture shows the Lord’s loving response. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
The Lord wants us to become new, which means jettisoning the old stuff that hinders our walk with the Lord.
One of the purposes of fellowship is to encourage one another. What better way to encourage than to pray, support, uplift and help each other when there is a need.
When we are not transparent, we thwart the Lord’s blessings for the group by denying them the privilege of being able to minister to us. When we are unwilling to share, the Lord’s hands are hindered in blessing us.
However, a word of caution:
If someone is willing to be transparent and share something that is hidden, then the people in the group, or friend at lunch, need to be helpful and listen without being judgmental towards the person and what they reveal.
Christ helped, without being judgemental, the woman at the well and the woman whom they wanted to stone.
Transparency requires much effort and trust from both sides. Trust also implies that what was shared will remain confidential and not be disclosed to others.
Fellowship is critical for the body of Christ. During the current pandemic, fellowship might wear a different face. There are probably fewer people in the group, the location could be different or the meeting times more sporadic.
The need for fellowship still remains, however, and true fellowship still includes transparency.
Are we willing, then, to be transparent?
My hope and prayer is, “Yes.”