How to Have Incredible Fellowship in Your Church, part 7

This post is part 7 of a series through 1 John on How to Have Incredible Fellowship in Your Church.

What song comes to mind when you hear these words: What is love?

Jim Carey? Will Ferrell? Roxbury?

So did I.

But we’re not actually talking about SNL, are we. (I bet $10 you’ll YouTube this after you read this post.)

We are talking about how to have incredible fellowship in your church. You desire this because you were created for it. In fact, I’ve had some great feedback from several of my readers about the struggles that come from the lack of this authentic fellowship in their churches. It pains me to see the hurt many Christians have had due to the lack of this commanded beauty.

My wife and I once sat and talked with a lady who was struggling in her marriage. Her children weren’t walking with God. Her husband was distant and cold. But her family had been part of the same church for many years. They attended an Adult Bible Fellowship (the modern terminology for Sunday school) and a small group regularly. But she was alone in her struggles.

How sad is this? Her small group should have been surrounding this precious family. But she needed to trust them enough for her to share her struggle. The question is, What would produce enough trust for a lady like this to share her struggle to her small group? I’m convinced John provides the answer.

In the last few posts, I shared from 1 John the three things that block this intimate fellowship. But now I want to take a very close look at the key ingredient that makes real fellowship happen.

So What Exactly Is Love?

The kind of love John talks about in his book 1 John–the kind of love Jesus spoke of, demonstrated, gave away freely.

The kind of love God has for the world (John 3:16). Many of us know the Greek word for this love: agape.

But what is it? How do you describe it?

John does it very well. Let’s look, because without this agape there can be no fellowship at all.

1 John 4:9-10

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

From these 2 verses, John gives us 4 characteristics of God’s love–agape.

  1. It’s all-giving. The love of God was manifested. 
  2. It’s sacrificial. God has sent His only begotten Son.
  3. It’s toward undeserving people. God has sent His only begotten Son into the world.
  4. It takes first initiative. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us.

That’s agape. Pure and simple.

Hard to do, but simply put.

John says that fellowship = love. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (1 Jn. 2:10)

So in order for me to abide in God’s light, a.k.a., experience intimate fellowship with Him, I must love like this.

Don’t believe me?

John says it here: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 Jn. 4:11)

All-giving. Sacrificial. Toward people who don’t deserve it (like me). And taking 1st initiative.

The opposite of this kind of love, according to John, is hate.

Ouch. I know. But God is serious about His children receiving this agape and giving this agape away. And this agape is the key to real, intimate, authentic fellowship.

What Next?

I encourage you to examine yourself, instead of someone else, to see if you are giving away this agape. It’s so easy for me to judge someone else in my church, thus complaining that my church doesn’t have real fellowship.

Perhaps these 4 characteristics deserve further examination.

Yes. I think it’s worth it in order to glorify God by having His fellowship with Him and others in our churches.

Let’s take a closer look at each one…

…tomorrow.

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So I wrote a book on authentic fellowship. Mainly for guys, though. Click the pic below to read more about it and how to purchase it. (Available on all eBook formats.)

 

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