The Fellowship of the Saints

The fellowship of the saints

The following is Psalm 16:3 in several different versions.  They differ from each other but all express the same fundamental thought.  The variation is refreshing and allows for a stronger development of thought.

 3 As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” (NKJV)  

 

3As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. (NASB)

 

3 The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!  I take pleasure in them! (NLT)
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No matter how we look at it, the Psalmist knows the value of other believers.  He exults in their companionship and rejoices in their presence in his life.  He knows that they have an excellence in them and about them.  He savours all contact with them.

We could say the psalmist has struck gold.  Whenever he has contact with them, good things start to happen.  A joy is awakened in him and bubbles to the surface. ( This Psalm 16 should be read in its entirety, I am only pulling out a single verse because of the light within it.)

Friendship, or companionship is a critical necessity for us, especially when the momentum of our culture is towards isolation.  I’ve been told of a certain kind of rock will begin to resonate, becoming warm in the presence of a rock of the same type.  (IDK if this is true but it is a great story).

I need brothers and sisters to awaken me.  As a man who struggles with physical and mental illness that connection brings me healing and wholeness.  I in turn through this same connection transmit grace and wisdom to them (or whatever).

There is not a lot of things better, and more invigorating than coffee with a Christian friend.  In heaven, there will be a Starbucks on every other corner serving up Vanilla Lattes for disciples wanting to visit and share their hearts (that is my personal theory anyway.)

The Psalmist puts our relationships into the light and evaluates them by the encouragement they bring.  We need to have that awareness as we contact each other.  As a “closet-hermit” I need that extra push.  I would anticipate or even expect it. 

The Holy Spirit works in the specific area of relationships.  That is His strength and forte’.  I believe that the way the Kingdom of God works, flows and advances is in large part because of godly relationships.  The more we cultivate them, the more the Church grows.

Interruptions: A Litmus Test for Disciples

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12

“Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.”

Andrew Murray

There is an awesome need for Christians who can be interrupted.  They have learned that their personal plans and agendas should be set aside for the acute need of the moment.  People like that are becoming receptive people–people who have learned to submit their wills to the Lordship of Christ.

There seems to be a lot of believers who have isolated themselves in order to avoid ‘complications’ of the Spirit.  Over the years they have cultivated a life without entanglements from others (at least, greatly reduced).  The basic root of this is not sin, but it quickly slides into an isolation that is not just threatening, but dangerous.

We are built for fellowship.  We need it— like my goldfish needs its water.  

Our brothers and sisters need us, and we most definitely need them.  In the Apostle’s Creed we read, ‘I believe in the Communion of the Saints’.  This takes a supernatural faith.  This dynamic of the Body calls us to fellowship with other believers, which is our desperate need of the moment.  Deep within, we crave human contact.  We need to touch someone else.

Being interruptible establishes several things. I think these questions are a simple starting point.

  • First, I have become approachable and tractable?
  • Second, is Jesus really Lord over my life?  (Or do I have my ‘own thing’ going?)
  • Third, do I really believe ‘something’ is going to happen when I begin to fellowship?
  • Fourth, is it really worth it?
  • Fifth, what is more important: People or my schedule?

Years ago I learned that every servant who really excelled had become a man or woman that could be interrupted.  And they respond in grace and kindness to every issue that came.  You’ll never hear them get frustrated or even irritable over being disturbed.  They simply have surrounded themselves in the will of God, and are His servants.

What is more important: a schedule or people?

There are ‘skills’ we need to learn for Christian community.  We have touched on some as we have matured.  We have practiced with this holy concept, and caught glimpses, many which translate into our present spiritual lives.

“Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.”

Charles Spurgeon

God’s great quest is to make those who have been redeemed into a cohesive body.  He takes a special delight in the harmony of His Church.  He is very passionate about this.  His proclivity to unity must be noted.  We must adjust and do all that is necessary to make it happen.  This dear one, is His will.

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Compatibility for Dummies

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Believers are to learn the skills of compatibility.  The classic definition is “to be able to exist harmoniously.”  The word is used in a dozen different fields, from agriculture to zoology.  But the particular area we are to look at is the “spiritual.”

The Holy Spirit is the prime teacher.  The same Spirit that holds me is holding you as well.  As a result we connect in a way that is profound.  This is all done supernaturally, and it is one of best arguments for the existence of God I know of.  The world is full of discord.  It is fractious and divided.  But believers can walk in harmony and love.

I was just 17 when I enlisted in the Army.  It truly was a learning experience. One of the basic principles is conforming by adaptation.  We all wore the same clothes.  Wore the same boots.  We ate together, and developed military skills together.  We also marched together in both large and small formations, keeping in step as a group.  We did lots and lots of marching, hours and hours a day.  It had a definite purpose.

Compatibility is learned; but it also is supernaturally given.  A piano player may play Mozart, because the gift lies within.  But that same musician must practice.  You could say what they have is both a talent and a skill.  In the very same way, the agreement I have with you is supernaturally easy—and physically hard.  However it is a skill to be learned.  Once we learn to do this, it will become easier and easier.

The essential foundation for this is the “Word of God.”  We can’t walk with a brother who is clearly at odds with the Bible’s teachings.  But we all know that sin is at epidemic levels, and we are all affected.  I suppose “humility” plays a huge part of staying in step with another saint.  The Lord is so gentle with the strugglers, can’t I do the same?

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8, ESV

Nevertheless (even with this in mind) we must be committed to the Word—first and foremost.  Everything must proceed from this common point.  Loving someone else will almost always involve servanthood.  Washing someone elses feet will almost always develop compatibility.

In Bible college I had a running feud with a fellow student.  He seemed to me to be incredibly arrogant.  Things came to an ugly head and the animosity was thick.  One day in prayer I heard the Holy Spirit speak.  “Go to your brother and wash his feet.”  I charged into his dorm room and became a servant.  I became connected to him in a profound way.

Being compatible does not mean we all do the same things.  We share the same Spirit but we don’t have the same gifts.  My theory is we are all designed with certain strengths, and proscribed weaknesses.  These make us vulnerable and open to another.  In Nehemiah 4, we read of men who built, and men who guarded.  Both were necessary.

The main issue for us is learning compatibility—and all the skills that enable us to practice unity.  We must understand, we are already connected in an amazing way.  But we must “practice” it.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”   Phil. 2:3, ESV