Fellowship, Just a Social Gathering?

[This article was written by Justin Monts.]

Today when we hear the word “fellowship” many say they already smell the coffee and donuts. It is sad that the Bible concept of Christian fellowship has been diminished and distorted as to mean nothing more than food, frolic, and fun. I once asked a man where his authority for the so-called “fellowship hall” was and he replied, “I believe we have authority for the fellowship hall in the command to fellowship.”

While it is true that spiritual fellowship and social activities are both part of the Christian life, we must understand that the two realms are actually exclusive. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, fellowship is simply, “The condition of being together and sharing similar interests or experiences.” This is a modern definition for the word but it is not how it is used in Scripture. Twenty times, fellowship, or koinonia in the Greek, is used and in each case it has nothing to do with merely “being together” or “verbally expressing interests.”

Biblical fellowship is a spiritual acceptance of other faithful Christians and an understanding that we can work and worship together while walking in the light. In extending the hand of fellowship we show direct approval of another’s spiritual condition (Acts 2:42; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 8:4; 9:13; 13:14; Galatians 2:9; Philippians 1:5; 2:1; 3:10; Philemon 1:6; Hebrews 13:6; 1 John 1:3, 6, 7). Having fun on a basketball court or enjoying meals with fellow Christians is commendable, but it does not constitute Biblical communion.

Consider the conclusions of making fellowship nothing more than verbal interaction. When we socialize with the Muslim, Buddhist, or even the Atheist, are we not having fellowship with them on the very same basis? By that definition we are. But the Bible says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). So, clearly fellowship and social interaction are not true equivalents. That being the case, we ought not make it appear that way.

The intent of this article is not to be peculiar but to make us aware of this fundamental difference. We must emphasize that Christian fellowship is “with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ” and not casual, frolicsome games or festivities and parties (1 John 1:3). Accordingly, let us speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

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