The spiritual discipline of fellowship sets us out on God’s mission. One simple observation about the New Testament is that most of the missionary endeavors and church planting were done by groups of believers. There are, of course, places in the Bible where individuals were faithful without the help of others. But, as you read the Scriptures, it is clearly God’s intention that His mission be carried out by His people collectively. Israel was set aside to be a nation that displayed God’s glory. The church is a people that together reflect the good news of Christ. We work as a group to see God’s message of salvation invade our community and the ends of the earth. We partner with one another for the gospel mission.
Ephesians 3:10 says, “This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.” As an individual, you can rely on the whole church to be a change-agent to the highest powers in culture and government. When we consider the injustices, inequities, and social ills tolerated by the leaders of countries, no believer is standing alone when they stand up for the gospel. The fellowship of the church stands with them.
As we carry the message of justice, we do so together because God chose to make His wisdom known not through Lone Ranger Christians but through the church. The Greek word used for “church” by the original manuscripts of the New Testament is ekklesia. It means that we are the “called out ones.” As such, we do this together.
Fellowship as inherent to God’s mission requires something that is part-encouragement and part-caution. Our mission is always relational so never use people for evangelistic target practice and illustrations of social do-gooding. Drive-by ministry devalues the lost and is insulting to the Christ who died for the sake of redeeming broken people. People are too important to simply use as playthings to bolster our egos. The gospel is too important to not handle with more care.
Consider this statement from C.S. Lewis included in “The Weight of Glory,”
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
It makes me pause to think about how I consider the people around me. If we find that people are treated as interruptions, then we’ve got it wrong. The love that we have for God must manifest itself in a love for those He sends across our paths.
We have not just the moments of light and love to share with Christ alone. We share it with one another. The immortals around us all have a destiny. The fellowship of the saints increases our joy and pleases our Father. The hospitality shown toward the outsider swings wide the gate of grace for the sinner to see grace, to understand love, and to respond to the gospel.