My first experience with a hunting outfitter was eye-opening. I’m so used to performing every necessary task from scouting to hunting to processing meat, that it felt really strange. On this particular hunt, I was only filming, but it still just felt out of place not to have done any of the work leading up to the hunt, or even spend the long nights cutting up meat. I was participating in the hunt, but it didn’t feel like I was contributing to it at all. The hunter and I were taken to our hunting location, sat until dark, and then we, and our kill, were picked up and taken back to camp for dinner. While it was certainly enjoyable, it didn’t feel like a “team sport”.
In verse 4-5 of Ephesians 4, Paul points to the source of Christian unity in the Church. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
The first and most important reason we can participate in meaningful fellowship is because of what we have in this source of unity. Our heavenly father is the same God. Our hope is in the same Christ. And those two things together provide the means necessary for us to be edified by one another.
Without meaningful fellowship that is filled with God’s spirit, fueled by the gospel, and led by the word, unity is absent. It is even possible that salvation is absent when God’s people refuse to contribute to fellowship in a meaningful way. (Read 1 John 3:14)
But, just as it is possible for an individual to profess Christ with their mouth and have their heart far from him, it is also possible for a christian to actively profess unity in mission while passively contributing to that mission. It’s the difference between a fully guided hunt and a do-it-yourself experience.
Your Contribution to Fellowship Is Valuable.
Part of Loving the people of God must include contributing our time, talents, gifts, and experience to the edification of them. God knows our tendency. So, he has given us the means, if you will to fight against this sort of sinfulness that convinces us that we can’t or shouldn’t contribute to meaningful fellowship. When we skip down to verse 11 of Ephesians 4, we see the true value of having fellowship with other believers.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets,the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
It is within the fellowship of the Church that we have been given the Apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers. We have also been given varieties of spiritual gifts according to 1 Corinthians 12:4.
There is not a believer in this world that does not possess a spiritual gift or God-given talent that can be offered up to contribute to meaningful fellowship. For time’s sake, we’re not going to hand out an extensive spiritual gifts assessment, but it is important for us to consider the measure by which we have been blessed and called in certain areas to contribute to the building up of the body of Christ. For example, If you are gifted in teaching, do not withhold that ability in your relationships among God’s people.
Consider The Absence of these Blessings.
I want to give you this list of five things that Paul lays out that God has given us within the fellowship of his people, and I want you to consider them from the angle of what you are missing, or what you are withholding from the church, by failing to contribute in meaningful fellowship among God’s people.
- Equipping for the work of ministry.
- Building up the body of Christ
- Maturity to the fullness of Christ
- Discernment (v14)
God gave the caretakers of his church to provide these good things within the body. Failing to participate and contribute to meaningful fellowship and we are called to shepherd, teach, counsel, and evangelize, we are not behaving “carnally”; we are behaving rebelliously and in a perpendicular manner to God’s good purposes. Just as children are most often the most damaged in an unhealthy marriage, the fallout of this disobedience lands most heavily on the immature believers.
How are you contributing to meaningful fellowship in your life? Leave a comment!