“God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship. Today, however, the word has lost most of its biblical meaning. “Fellowship” now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun. The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”
Fellowship isn’t just about going to church. “It is experiencing life together.” God says fellowship is the following: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
When we get honest about who we are, what’s going on in our lives, when we share our pain, grief, failures, doubts, fears, weaknesses, and when we ask for help and/or prayer – this is being real or authentic. It’s not about judging each other or fearing that we’ll be judged. That’s not our job. Our job, if we truly wish to fellowship with each other, is to share, listen, try to understand, try to relate, sympathize, depend on each other, encourage each other, help if we can, comfort and pray for and with each other. Now, I have searched for this sort of fellowship in different Sunday School classes at different churches and I have not found a place where I am comfortable sharing. Ok, I’ll admit I am uncomfortable sharing at all with anyone. However, I have looked. I have tried to find it. I have done better, myself, to find several people in my life that I know, personal friends, co-workers, certain family members and these are the ones I fellowship with. Fellowship is not about what church or Sunday school services you attend. It’s about sharing with people and letting them share with you with those feelings expressed above. It’s about sharing the love of Jesus.
Mr. Warren says “Authenticity is the exact opposite of what you find in some churches.” That is true. At least, I have not found a church where the people are authentic. Now, some of the people are, but it seemed that many were gossipy, refused to share, didn’t act like they were listening or caring and for me at least – I find it hard to share unless the people seem real and interested in what is being shared. I am still looking for the right church. I haven’t given up. And until I find it, we will continue to worship and fellowship anyway, whether it’s in the building called church, or not. Hallie and I have church every day and with other people in our lives.
“The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. . . . If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves.” The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. Darkness is used to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.”
“Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility – facing our fear of exposure, rejection, and being hurt again. Taking this risk is the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.””
Being sympathetic is “entering in and sharing the pain of others. Sympathy says, “I understand what you’re going through, and what you feel is neither strange nor crazy.” It “meets two fundamental needs: the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated.”
“You can’t have fellowship without forgiveness. God warns, “Never hold grudges,” because bitterness and resentment always destroy fellowship.” I am an expert in this area – holding grudges, that is. I have spent years perfecting this talent. People wrong me and I will hold a grudge against them for all eternity. Am I proud of this? Well, there is that saying, “Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.” (Maybe a bad choice of words, but it’s the saying. Only being real here.) People mess with our trust. They hurt us, stab us in the back, are two-faced and we are supposed to forgive them?! Seriously? Om, yeah! Right. Actually, yes, we are supposed to. Forgiving and trusting are very different, though. We are supposed to forgive, whether that person asks for it, or not. We are supposed to forgive as soon as they wrong us. Do you find this difficult? Well, I do! Forgiving is something new to me. I only started learning how to do this a few years ago. It’s hard for me, but I’m trying to learn. When I forgave that first time, I do remember how wonderful it felt. This guy wronged me (I can’t remember if I posted about this situation in this blog, but if you want the story, I have it on a different blog and I’ll post in this one if you ask me to.) about 20 years ago and I held a grudge till about 2-3 years ago. I ran into him again after all those years and we talked for a few minutes. I realized I’d forgiven him. WOW! What a load off! I felt I’d lost about 50 lbs! Amazing how good that felt! So, I’m working on the holding grudges thing. Still have a few kinks to work out.
“Forgiveness must be immediate . . . Trust must be rebuilt over time.” Trust can be earned by some. I don’t know that it can be earned by all. I suppose it depends on the situation and what they did to you. I know there are a few people in my past that I don’t believe I could ever trust. They have proven, over years, that they cannot be trusted. But can I forgive them? I think so. I’m working on this. I’ve gotten past the point of hating and resenting them. I feel pity for them, instead, now. I think I’m working toward forgiveness. Will I be close to these people? Probably not. I may never even choose to see these people again but I think I can still forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean you continue to let them hurt you. It means you are letting go of that pain. You are freeing yourself from that prison, and believe me, it is a prison. Let yourself out, if you can. Try. It’s medicine for your soul. Does that mean, continue to be a friend to that person who wronged you? Sometimes. Depends on the situation and only you can tell yourself this.
Try to fellowship with someone today. If sharing is out of your comfort zone, try listening. Let them share with you. Really listen. Let them know they aren’t crazy. Help to make them feel understood. Encourage them. Help if you can. Sometimes, just listening is all the help they need.
It’s Friday Eve! Yea! Yes, I live for the weekend. I know I should live for the day, but when I am faced with a work-free weekend, quality time with my kid, my mom, friends I don’t see during the week, shopping, playing with furbabies (and we have a new visitor, by the way – “Bug” – a baby (or toddler) flying squirrel that Hallie rescued a couple of days ago. Let me know if you want to see a picture and I’ll post.), playing in the kitchen, playing games, etc., I can’t help but live for the weekend. Have a great Thursday!
Love you guys! 😉 *big bear hug*