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Hello! It’s me again, coming to you not so live from my Daughter’s bedroom. This, by the way, has served as my office for the past few months. The company I work for - we have a big empty office in the CBD, and a funny thing has happened. You see: for a year our staff - especially those pesky millennials - have been pushing for remote work. They want to work from home and of course, thanks to Covid, we’ve now been afforded a 3 month trial period of remote working. And it’s been working pretty well. So, end of the office, right? We can save ourselves a lot of money on rent and continue remotely and in isolation? Well – not exactly. What we’ve now realised is that we need an office – ok, maybe it will be different after lockdown to what it was before, but as a company we’re not about to get rid of a central meeting place. Now remember - this is a corporate business – we need to work hard and make profits – but to do that we need the meeting space. We need the sense of community that comes with it – as human beings we need the human interaction to function better as a team.

No surprise to us Christians - because we know what fellowship is – we know that Human beings are meant to live in community.


So then, we dive into our thoughts for this week. We are continuing a series – entitled Devoted To – the devotion of the early church to what, well, we’re going through various things – Devotion to the apostles teaching, Devotion to Christ himself – last week we looked at devotion to the practice of the breaking of bread.

And this week we come round to another element in that four part list in Acts 2:42 – Devotion to fellowship. Acts 2:42 as a quick reminder said the following – talking about the early church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Fellowship was something that these guys took seriously – and as we look at our own church against this backdrop coming out from scripture.


What can we glean from a short simple verse like this?

Well, let’s start with the word itself.

The Greek word used here is Koinonia – and I’ve almost certainly butchered that pronunciation – but I’m told refers the common union – communion of believers.

As a group of believers –we have this Koinonia - this sharing in the divine nature of God – and this sharing in the faith of fellow believers, - this joint participation even in spiritual sufferings. If you look at this little snapshot verse with its 4 elements – doctrine, prayers, breaking of bread – those three are obviously deeply rooted spiritual practices? Is fellowship the odd one out – I’m not sure about you but when usually think of fellowship – I think of a cup of tea and a chat of a Sunday morning service – , we say at the end of a Sunday meeting, don’t rush off home, stick around for some fellowship. Like implying we haven’t been enjoying fellowship until that point – but we certainly have.

SO what’s the spiritual element of fellowship? IF you were to do a simple look through of the usage of this term fellowship in New Testament scripture, you would quickly see that the fellowship that believers are called to – the primary relationship – the greater relationship – is in Fellowship with the Son.

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful, by whom you were called in the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:3

And this is a great viewpoint for a church that wants to share its faith

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim 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.

Fellowship with God - Vertical

So before we think about horizontal fellowship with one another – the foundation is fellowship with Christ – whatever teaching we are called to give, whatever love and hospitality we are called to show, whatever relationships we are called to build – it comes from Christ – it doesn’t come from the ‘kindness of our hearts’ – it comes through hearts that are changed – hearts that are DEVOTED to - Him – hearts that reflect His love, and his compassion.

When we gather as a church – yes, we gather with others – but we gather in His name – for his glory and sake – and scripture tells us, when we gathered- he is present! In some supernatural way - there he is in the midst of us. Our fellowship is with Him first.

Fellowship with others – Horizontal

But then it goes outwards – then it spreads to the horizontal – A devoted church – read on in chapter 2 – together, everything in common, they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need – they ate together in their homes with glad and sincere hearts – they continued to meet together.

This is a picture of a community that enjoy the vertical fellowship with the Lord but also the horizontal fellowship with each other.

Listen to scripture as it supports this fellowship principle

Ecclesiastes 4:12

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 1:12

That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Now what we are talking about here is the design of the church – it is intended that we would be together as a body, that we would be united with one another in Him – not that we would be exactly the same and look the same and dress the same and sound the same…no - but it is by design that we do not operate in isolation. We’re not called to go off to meditate on an isolated retreat and find God in a hermit remote removed like existence. Some of the introverts among us say hey, that sounds great!

But no, the design of the church is with other people – a body of believers fulfilling different roles, bringing different things into the mix. Helping to teach, each other, to strengthen each other, to support each other. Discipleship. Teaching and training in the Word. And even physical, practical needs - Even in the verse in acts two – needs were being met – physical and spiritual.

Fellowship in what?

Here’s another interesting aspect – that often comes out – you read about the fellowship of the early church, and you many times see that it is talking about fellowship – in something – and what I mean by that is like for example fellowship in some type of work.

Sure, fellowship in the meeting and teaching of the word – fellowship in their worship and praying and breaking of Bread – but also

Fellowship in their sharing of the gospel

Fellowship in the pastoral work, and the meeting of needs

You want to really enjoy true Christian fellowship, partner with someone or some group in Christian work – in my experience some of the greatest fellowship I experienced was working together with a team of leaders on a Friday night in the youth work – you ask the youngsters involved in holiday clubs and Easter camps about the fellowship they enjoy with brothers and sisters working towards a common goal. Some of the stronger relationships I have with people at Medway are with people in the Worship team – ja we get together and learn songs and jam and have a few laughs but at a deeper level there is a shared bond in the work as we do it as unto the Lord.

So whats the problem – why make a focus on the Devotion of the early church to this thing called fellowship?

Fellowship sounds like an attractive thing – an easy sell – here is a bunch of friendly people wanting you to join their community? But don’t forget – for every person who receives, there have to be people who put in – Not just material things – not just like these early church guys selling their possessions and putting it all into the communal pot. What about time, and care, and attention. If we want to be in a church community that - you know, for example, checks up on its elder members, then we need to have people willing to do that work – we don’t get the benefit if no-one does the work – sounds like a obviously silly thing to say – but it’s a worthy reminder. You want to attend a Church that has a variety of people giving input on a Sunday, not just one oke doing it all – well you need to be able grow these individuals and provide opportunities for them.

Maurice has been doing an outstanding job in the past months of keeping in touch – I wonder if you, like us Rowans, have a little WhatsApp setup and every now and then he checks in, sees how you are, passes on some news etc. But as great as this all is – we obviously run the risk of it becoming Maurice’s JOB – He becomes our professional fellowship coordinator. And we do nothing and quickly die out…

Here’s the point I am trying to make – we look at the early church and see all that comes out of it – this sense of community, the growth, the teaching, the living in peace and favour, the meeting of each other’s needs….

What is the input that is feeding all of this - the devotion of the members. The sacrifices they were willing to put down – the things they were willing to give up, and DEVOTE to the growth of the church.

So fellowship can be hard work – fellowship – true fellowship might actually be the thing that is hardest to keep devoted to. That costs the most…

SJoe, other people, man, they can be hard work – they can drain you – so you wind up keeping a low profile because you don’t want to get stuck in a fat chat with some guy who really irritates the stuffing out of you. It is challenging.

But - You’ve already been asked in this series a few challenging questions

I looked back through the lovely summaries that Lauren has been doing for these talks – they all end with a powerful challenge -

How much are you prepared to give –

What will you do with Jesus

The money or the cross

Is Jesus your most important relationship?

And guess what, true to form here – we end with a challenge – because you can’t talk about all the benefits of Fellowship – how it draws us together, how it encourages us, how it follows that pattern setout for the setup of the early church – how it enables us to function as the Body of Christ with its various parts. – You can’t talk like that about all these great rewards – without talking about what it requires – 2000 years ago – what it required – and yes, turning the finger back out ourselves, what it requires of us.

And this is where it gets personal. Only you really know what the Lord is calling you to give – in your devotion to Him – in your Devotion to your faith – what are you in a position to give? Your time? Your gifts – your abilities? Your hospitable nature? Your hard earned cash?

Maybe, like me, often you’re too scared to think and pray along those lines? Afraid of what the Spirit might prompt you to do – afraid of having to give up something you really like?

Let’s pray together...

Fellowship with him and fellowship with one another.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

1 John 1:5-7

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[


] sin.

Father this is where we are – We have seen and heard – and in our weakness as humans we declare to Plumstead, to Cape Town, to South Africa, even when the country is down on it’s knees – that you are the answer – that you are the way, the truth and the life. Thank you that you find strength in our weakness. Help us to walk in this light – to walk as a body in true fellowship with you, and true fellowship which each other. In these weeks as we continue to move through these thoughts of devotion, and commitment – talk to us, challenge us, help to grow in our faith and knowledge of you. Help us to live out the truth, like we’ve just read.

In Jesus name – AMEN.