Is it an event on the church calendar? We talk about hosting a “fellowship” after the evening service. Is it something we do? We’re told to “fellowship” with other believers while at church. What exactly is fellowship? Is it something that happens automatically every time believers talk to each other or hang out… or do we have to mention the Bible at least three times for it to count? We talk about fellowship a lot but I’m not sure we have a good grasp on what it actually is.
In his first letter, the apostle John gives us some insight into what fellowship is when he writes, “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1:3-4). John and the other apostles had lived with Jesus during his earthly ministry, they had been taught by him as students, and they witnessed his resurrection from the dead. In addressing his audience, John is now telling them of the eternal life that he and the others had experienced firsthand so that they (the audience) may have fellowship with them (the apostles). But then he goes on to say that the apostles’ fellowship is with the Father and the Son. Judging from these two verses, it seems that fellowship is more something we are given and something we possess than something we do or an event we host. Through faith in Christ we are given fellowship with God and through that fellowship we also possess fellowship with every other believer in the world.
In reality, because fellowship is something we possess through our salvation, as John MacArthur says, we are never really “out of fellowship” with God and each other (MacArthur Study Bible note on verses 1:3-4). However, because of our neglect we often miss all the day-to-day blessings that come with working out that fellowship practically. As Christians we must work out our fellowship through encouragement, accountability, rejoicing together, and the like. Working out this fellowship is, essentially, enjoying God together and helping each other enjoy Him more.