Why is it so hard for some Christians to fellowship with other Christians? Have you ever witnessed this? More intimately-have you ever experienced this yourself? The Bible clearly declares that Christians are the ‘body of Christ’, or even better yet, the church. The Bible is also very clear on spending time with one another,encouraging one another, praying for one another. So why is it that so many professing believers choose to not engage other believers outside of just attending a church service?
Separation and division. Two of the core vocabulary words for the devil and his minions. One of Satan’s primary tactics is to attempt to divide the body of Christ. He will do this very often through gossip or offense…or both. In fact, Sunday sermons readily touch on such topics and there have many books published addressing these very issues. But what about the person who doesn’t want to fellowship with other believers who wasn’t necessarily offended? There was no choice gossip that drove this person away from the congregation…they just, well, don’t want to spend time with other believers. There could be some various reasons for this but what I want to touch on in this article is that of what I call, ‘cold faith’.
We know the devil is our adversary and he looks to divide at every turn. Many times through direct involvement but our fellowship with one another can be seriously hindered when our faith is not in line with where it should be. Or more commonly referred to as ‘backslidden’. When we are not spending time with the Lord our faith begins to grow cold. Now I’m not talking about losing one’s salvation. I’m talking about a general dryness to the presence of God because the world has begun to weave it’s tentacles around our lives pulling us away from spiritual intimacy.
“See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. ENCOURAGE one another daily, while it is still today, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
The writer of the book of Hebrews specifically instructed us to ‘encourage one another’. Why? Because sin, which lurks at the door of our heart, seeks to deceive us and drag us down and away from God. Sin will always hinder relationships. Whether it be with God or with each other. Did you get that? We will touch on this more later. We need each other as disciples of Christ. The original 12 disciples needed each other. The early church needed each other. We need each other. Iron sharpens iron…as is so often quoted. We ‘sharpen’ each other. None of us is independent from the body of Christ. None of us.
When we think of a human body, we all know that no one part of the body can live apart from it being connected to the entire body AND, that some of the parts require multiple other parts to function. If a foot is removed and left sitting on the floor, it obviously will not continue to walk around. Plainly stated-it will die. But even if the foot is reconnected to the leg, it still can’t function without proper blood flow, sensory nerve involvement and supporting skeletal support. It is dependent on other parts of the body, just as the body as a whole is dependent on all the parts to properly function in life. The same is with a puzzle. Without even one piece the puzzle is incomplete. The body is incomplete without all the parts and…the body of Christ is sorely incomplete without all its parts. The apostle Paul speaks extensively about this very thing in chapter 12 of his 1st letter to the Corinthian church.
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many…But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthias 12:14, 18-19)
So, we’ve established that we need each other and that we are not independent of one another but, what does that have to do with being backslidden in our walk with God? Everything! When Jesus redeemed us, by His sacrifice on the cross and and resurrection from the dead, He did so with the intent that our love for each other would be the classifying agent of our faith!
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Jesus knew that when He ascended back to the right hand of the Father, that He would send His Holy Spirit to indwell those on Earth who would put their faith in Him. When the Holy Spirit resides in a human, the nature of God resides in that person-regardless of the outer shell they live in. The nature of God is love. God is love. (1 John 4:8) He is the very embodiment of love and relationship. So when we aren’t loving one another, we aren’t reflecting the nature of God. And, if we aren’t spending time with one another, it’s highly doubtful we are loving others, thus again, not exerting love. We are however exerting selfishness and selfishness, well, selfishness is the core of all sin. When we move away from our intimacy and relationship with the Father, we also move away from our intimacy and relationship with one another.
Quite some time ago, within the first couple years after I had surrendered my life to the Lord, I began to notice I was not spending time with some of my Christian friends like I had up to that point in time. Not only was I not spending as much time with them, I wasn’t wanting to spend as much time with them. I was choosing this path. I specifically remember sitting in a Sunday school class between services, when the Lord gently spoke this to me. He then showed me a scripture that radically changed my life and my situation.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light and in Him there is NO darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. (Here is the kicker) But, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of His Son Jesus purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)
This verse opened my eyes to what was going on in my own life. I wasn’t in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I wasn’t in fellowship with them because, I wasn’t in fellowship with my Heavenly Father. This was huge for me. I realized I had become cold in my faith and hadn’t even realized it. That relational distance from the Lord had created a relational distance with other Christians. This revelation revolutionized my walk with God and with others.
Many in the church today are pulling away, not because of offense or because of doctrinal difference or because the music is wrong or anything along these lines. They are pulling away from the church because they are pulling away from God. Now you may say, “Well gosh, everyone know this.” I would say, “yes they know this” but only in the larger scale of things when someone stops coming to church.” There are so many Christians who come to service week in and week out, who haven’t stopped attending services yet, they have stopped ‘attending’ in a sense because they are no longer in fellowship with one another. This is huge spiritual gut check for every believer. When we get to a place where we are constantly criticizing every other Christian in our church, no longer wanting to hang out with other believers, not spending quality fellowship time with other disciples of Christ-there is a problem. Now it could be an offense or some issue of the church doctrine that has pushed us away but, ever so often, it’s our faith has waned and we don’t realize it. Our fellowship with others is equal to the level of our connection to the messiah.
“…because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
Most are familiar with Einstein’s formula for relativity which is Energy = mass x the speed of light (squared) or, E=mc². In Einstein’s theory, energy and mass are fundamentally connected. The greater the speed of light, the larger the size of mass, equating to a greater amount of energy. Well a similar relationship exists when it comes to fellowship with God and fellowship with other believers. The greater our connection (c) to the Messiah (m), the greater the degree of fellowship with others (F)! Or…F=mc²! Now this of course, isn’t a lesson in physics and I’m not trying to scientifically prove the theory of relativity in some spiritual sense but what I am doing, is proving from scripture, the relativity of our fellowship with the Father, to the level of our fellowship with one another.
I challenge you…where is your level of fellowship and time spent with other Christians? Are you involved in maybe a small group at your church or maybe some additional social time with other believers? Do you meet regularly to encourage one another and pray for one another? Do you serve alongside other believers in some common ministry endeavor? Or have you drifted from your desire to be around other believers? Has that distance been growing over some time and you haven’t been quite sure what’s going on but were blaming the church or some other issue as the culprit? …when it was your own faith that had grown cold all along? Remember, no part of the body is independent from another part. We all need each other. And the world needs the church. Let’s not allow the deceptions of this world and our spiritual enemy to fool us any longer. We are more than victors through Christ. Blessings.
“Let not give us meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)