Today I want to share with you the secret to healthy, rapid spiritual growth.
Imagine one solitary blade of grass surrounded by nothing but soil. That one blade, like most all grass, grew quickly and has relatively shallow roots. How easy would it be, then, to uproot that blade of grass?
Pretty easy, right?
Now, imagine thousands more, tightly packed together. Their roots are interconnected and intertwined. How easy is it to uproot that one blade of grass now?
By packing a lot of grass together into a tightly-knit system, you find that it has “staying power” unlike a lone blade could ever hope to have.
In case you missed the title of this article, fellowship is the secret of healthy, rapid spiritual growth. I say “healthy,” because rapid growth isn’t necessarily good in some cases. The faster people grow, the shallower their roots tend to be. If left alone, they’ll be easily uprooted. But like the grass, pack those people together in the right environment, and they will thrive. Now throw some “plants” in there that have even deeper roots (like mature Christians), and you can see how strong this network becomes! If you want to grow quickly in Christ and still stand strong, then you need to learn and implement true fellowship!
Fellowship is a matter of being “fellow” Christians. In other words, it has to do with intense unity, love, and brotherhood. Just like the blades of grass standing strong together, fellowship enables us to strengthen one another and keep growing.
The Greek word used in the Bible is “koinõnia“–which means partnership, community, and participation. But it also implies deep intimacy. Strong’s Greek Dictionary even goes so far as to call it “social intercourse.” It refers to healthy relationships that go way deeper than casual greetings and conversations. I’m talking about getting into people’s lives and ministering at a deep level to one another.
Real fellowship is very practical. It’s what I call “mutual ministry.” It’s the means by which we engage in each other’s lives, learn to trust one another, speak life into one another, encourage on another, pray for one another, and spur one another on toward love and good works.
We have a tendency in the Church to reserve deep issues for counseling sessions and altar calls. Such times are healthy and necessary for us as we develop in our faith, but they aren’t fellowship. Fellowship goes two ways. It doesn’t have to go two ways at the same time; but if only one person is ever being vulnerable, then it’s not fellowship.
Admittedly, some Christians are more mature than others and have less to be vulnerable about. Even still, they have a depth of relationship with Christ that can be shared openly. They can prophesy, encourage, instruct, love, warn, and pray. But if fellowship is going to really happen, then it can’t stop there. Think about the word itself: fellow-ship. You must be “fellow” Christians. That means the mature believer doesn’t stand over the new Christian. Rather, they stand side-by-side.
This takes self-sacrifice on the part of both parties. The mature must be humble, and the young must agree to grow. Suddenly, fellowship can flourish! It happens regardless of denomination. Regardless of history. Regardless even of a person’s involvement at a church organization. Real fellowship can take place through any two Christians who are willing to self-sacrifice and involve themselves in each other’s lives.
Fellowship is a vital component in the Church. The first Christians considered it so important that it was one of only four things that they are said to have “devoted themselves to.”
Acts 2:42-47–They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV)
I believe true fellowship is essential to the health, growth, and advancement of the Church. For this reason, my next few blog posts will be all about practically applying this principle to your life. We’ll cover the supernatural factors involved in fellowship, how to actively engage in fellowship, and what it means to “walk in the light,” which 1 John 1:7 says results in fellowship.