Purposeful Unity

Fellowship

Frodo is a champ, but there is not the slightest chance he can destroy the Ring by himself. Aragorn saves him from the Nazgûl; Gandalf rescues him from the Balrog; and Sam Gamgee carries him up Mount Doom. Frodo needs as much help as he can get. That is why The Fellowship of the Ring was created. The Loner and the Ring probably would have ended in Frodo’s death right after he leaves the Shire – pretty lame. But he succeeds because every member of the fellowship brings to the table unique attributes. Legolas snipes with deadly accuracy; Gimli’s brute strength wards off countless orcs; and Gandalf orchestrates much of the adventure in his wisdom.

The Christian journey should resemble The Fellowship of the Ring, but some people view their faith as an individual quest. And there is some truth in that. In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of sanctified solitude – alone time between an individual and the Lord. Much benefit derives from practicing independent spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, fasting, Bible study, journaling, etc. However, there is a communal aspect to each of them. While solitude is important, community is essential.

God designed humans for relationships. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’” (Genesis 2:18). Then Adam and Eve delighted in their companionship. God lived with them in Eden. Timothy Keller says, “Ultimate reality is a community of persons who know and love one another.” However, when Adam and Eve sinned, their perfect community was destroyed. Distance grew between mankind and God, and relational strife between Adam and Eve began.

Now that humans struggle with sin, spiritual community is needed for confession and accountability. The author of 1 John begins his letter by inviting his readers into God’s fellowship of believers. Immediately after this invitation, he says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we tell brothers and sisters in Christ about our sins, we show God that we want to change. They will pray for us, and we will overcome our sins.

In addition, Christian fellowship combats spiritual blindness. Most of the time we are blind to our own shortcomings. David says in the psalms, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12). Will Walker wrote a fantastic book called The Kingdom of Couches, which details the importance of fellowship. He says, “A community’s opinion helps guard against the lies of subjectivity.” When we are in Biblical community we can rely on others to correct us when we stray: “Let a righteous man strike me – that is a kindness; let him rebuke me – that is oil on my head” (Psalm 141:5). We too can help others actualize their potential by counseling them with our unique perspectives.

Jesus wants His nation to live in fellowship. He specifically prays for the unity of the church: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). Therefore, believers should prioritize fellowship in their lives.

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