1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Faithful or Trustworthy
The Corinthians had problems. They were believers. They had been called into the fellowship of the the Lord Jesus Christ whom they and Paul called Lord. But they were immature, divided, and filing lawsuits one against another. They were tolerating immorality. They were not separating from the sin or the sinners in Corinth which was bad even by the standards of the world in which they lived. Some were being so bold in their testimony as to eat things offered to idols because they now knew that the idol was a fiction created by man; and yet they weren’t considering that that their actions could harm others who thought that by eating they were actually worshiping those idols. These Christians were getting drunk at the Lord’s table. Obviously, these Christians were not enjoying the fellowship into which they were called.
Fellowship is Partnership
Fellowship is a precious thing. It involves being like-minded and working together. It is participating in the same projects and goals. It is agreement. Whenever there are problems and divisions among Christians, someone is out of fellowship with the Lord. 1 John 1:3 says, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” When our vertical fellowship (that is, our fellowship with the Father) is right, then our horizontal fellowship (that is, our fellowship with one another) will be right. Because the Corinthians were having trouble with the horizontal aspect of fellowship, their real problem was with their vertical relationship with God. I think that is why the climax of the epistle is chapter 15, where the Gospel is clearly spelled out (to Christians mind you) and where they are reminded of the power of the resurrection and of the promise of the Lord’s return. It is in Chapter 15 that Paul reminds them of victory. In 1 Corinthians 15:57, Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because of that victory, he encourages them to keep on keeping on. The next verse says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Christians are to Continue in Fellowship
One of the four pillars of the church in Acts 2:42 is fellowship. I really don’t think Luke was writing about a half hour for coffee and cookies between meetings although that is one way of expressing our friendship. But fellowship involves every aspect of the church and of the work of the Lord. Fellowship should be expressed by our unity at the Lord’s Table as we remember the Lord.
Fellowship is expressed by the gift of helps. We may not have the ability to do something ourselves, but we can sure encourage and help others that do. We can help missionaries on the front-lines by praying for them and by our financial support. That support may come through congregations, but many times it comes through individuals who see a need that the church they are attending does not. Since the Gospel is free, missionaries should not charge those to whom they are preaching the Gospel; but those back home can make sure that they are able to eat and to keep a roof over their heads while they minister to those who have not heard the Gospel. Paul appreciated the help of Phillipi in that regard. He mentions that once and again that assembly had come to his rescue (Philippians 4:16). In the first chapter he calls their help fellowship in the Gospel (verse 5). Even the Lord was supported by those who believed in him and in many cases that was by women. (See Luke 8:3).
Paying for Services Rendered
Many people justify hiring pastors and paying for them because of 1 Timothy 5:17-18 which says, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN," and, "THE LABORER IS WORTHY OF HIS WAGES." I am not sure that “double honor” in this passage justifies employment contracts. I think it justifies regular and continuing practical fellowship. However, one thing I know by personal experience is that fellowship given to support a work by one who is truly partnering with you because the Holy Spirit has moved them to do so is an experience that far surpasses a pay check.
Fellowship is wonderful. When we are in fellowship with the Lord we will be in fellowship with one another. When we are in fellowship one with another, we will be working together for the furtherance of the Gospel. This will be expressed in a lot of ways. One way, however, will be for individuals as well as churches to financially support those who want to keep the Gospel free.
Meditation for the week of August 21, 2016