By Jack Kinsella
The dictionary defines the noun, ‘fellowship’, as follows: ”a friendly association, esp. with people who share one’s interests; a group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim.”
Add the word “Christian” and it defines the ‘shared interests and aims’ that hold such a fellowship together.
A ‘Christian fellowship’ is deeper than a ‘friendly association’. Unlike secular fellowships, it addresses both the secular and spiritual dimensions of our existence.
It is that spiritual dimension that makes a Christian fellowship unique. By definition, a Christian is set apart,(the word ‘church’ means ‘called out ones’) — sometimes even from members of his own family and friends.
It is that spiritual dimension to our humanity that either brings us together or drives us apart.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2nd Corinthians 6:14)
This is not so much a command as it is a warning. Paul is not commanding Christians to shun unbelievers.
That would make no sense. Paul’s mission was to carry the Gospel to the lost. You can’t do that if you avoid contact with them.
Instead, Paul is warning of the consequences of ‘yoking’ oneself ‘unequally’ in the spiritual sense. “Fellowship” involves shared interests and shared aims.
Unbelievers can be very spiritual. I’ve heard some very spiritual conversations about Buddha; about Mohammed; about God; about the afterlife; about the existence of heaven and hell; but the moment one introduces Jesus into the discussion, an invisible line is drawn in the sand.
What had previously been a friendly conversation suddenly becomes tense. It generally ends in one of two ways. It either gets heated, or it drifts off into an awkward silence. Nobody is neutral when it comes to Jesus.
Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)
Unbelievers (and even some new believers) read those verses and they don’t understand. After all, wasn’t Jesus tolerant, kind, family-oriented and peaceful? Isn’t that the basis for asking oneself the question: “What Would Jesus Do?”
Why, then, would He say He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword? Or that He would set families against one another?
Mature Christians don’t have to ask that question. They need only look to those family members of their own who shun them as ‘holy rollers’ or well-meaning, but deluded eccentrics.
Or those former friends who now cross the street when they see you coming? Or avoid making eye contact when they can’t?
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He doesn’t so much bring the sword as He invites it.
For many Christians, coming to Christ means making foes from among one’s own household. That is why a Spirit-led Christian fellowship is deeper than ‘a friendly association’ — deeper even than some family ties.
There is nothing quite as satisfying to the spirit as fellowshipping with like-minded believers.
There are no doctrinal hurdles to first be overcome, no need to carefully choose words to avoid kicking somebody else’s sacred cow; just the opportunity to just talk freely.
To be able to say ‘rapture’ without first either having to explain it or defend it is, well, rapturous. To actually be able to discuss it — in depth — and without the discussion degenerating into an adversarial debate — is beyond value.
And to have a multitude of counsellors with whom to share the trials and burdens and cares of this world, counsellors who understand this world and that to come…this is a gem beyond price.
The Omega Letter has become such a fellowship and thanks to the world-wide web, it is a fellowship that knows no borders.
We come from every corner of this earth, from every continent; to share our trials and tribulations, toils and troubles, victories and defeats, to edify one another, to teach and to learn, to pray for one another and to rejoice at each other’s praise reports.
We are many individuals, from many cultures, nations and walks of life, but we are one family in Christ.
We are doctors, lawyers, laborers, computer geeks, grandmothers, military officers, American, Canadian, Israeli, Australian, European, Mexican, Brazilian (even one Islamic country I’d rather not name) — we have many viewpoints and perspectives — but we are one in Christ.
We are committed to understanding the times in which we live and imparting that understanding to a lost and dying world.
You each prove your commitment to that shared goal every month through your subscriptions. In addition to paying the bills, it is the subscription fee that serves as the primary gatekeeper to our forums.
There are lots of folks who love to seek out and disrupt Christian fellowship forums for the fun of it, but very few who will pay for the privilege when there are so many targets they can stir up mischief in for free.
I claim no credit for the Omega Letter fellowship becoming what it has become. I had nothing to do with it — the fellowship is the sum of its members, as reflected by its members.
A member of our fellowship was relating in the forums the other day that he had been the victim of a drug scam at a fast food store. I found his post exemplary of what I’ve been struggling to articulate.
Your average guy would be screaming bloody murder. Our guy’s concern wasn’t for himself, but for the people who scammed him. The member’s replies were equally filled with prayers — for the scammers!
That is what transcends geography and nationality and identifies us as one family in Christ.
Another member has taken it upon herself to keep track of member’s birthdays. Another has constructed a member’s directory.
Some have taken on teaching responsibilities. Others as prayer warriors. (One forum is dedicated specifically to prayer requests.) We share, we laugh, we fellowship!
If you’re a member and haven’t taken the time to visit the members forums lately, you are depriving yourself of the best part of the Omega Letter.
(If you aren’t a subscriber, you don’t know what you’re missing. The OL Daily Digest is just the icing. The fellowship forums is where we keep the cake.)
I’ve wanted, for some time, to find a way to personally thank each of you for having blessed me through the years with your friendship and your prayers — without sounding sappy.
I was unsuccessful. It still sounds sappy. But it is hard to write a love letter without sounding sappy, since that is what this is.
May God richly bless each of us, and our Omega Letter Fellowship, until He comes.
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)