No Ordinary Fellowship

Day 1 | Today’s passage

Philippians 1:1-8

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “fellowship”? It seems like too often, we think of it as simply “hanging out” with one another, playing games in youth group, or having casual conversations.

While there’s nothing wrong with all of that, do you sometimes wonder if that’s really all there is to fellowship?

In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he shows us a different picture of what true fellowship looks like. He starts by thanking the Philippians for their “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). Some translations use the word “fellowship” instead. What was this partnership or fellowship that Paul thanked the Philippians for?

The Philippian church was the first church Paul planted in Europe. It consisted of a merchant named Lydia and her household, a jailer and his family, and others who have become believers since its founding (Acts 16). While Paul wrote many letters to correct or rebuke problems in early churches, his letter to the Philippian church stands out as one of thanksgiving and rejoicing.

I’m sure the Philippian church was not perfect. No church is. But what set the Philippians apart was their razor-sharp focus: they were committed towards furthering their shared goal—spreading the good news of Christ. In supporting Paul financially and working with him (4:15), the Philippian church was not just spreading the gospel, but they were living the gospel out in community.

When Paul thanks God for his fellowship with believers in Philippi, he is not merely thinking of casual after-meal talks or fun games. Paul is thankful that the Philippians were working alongside him in sharing the gospel with the Gentiles, reaching out to those in need, and looking out for the interests of others even when they themselves were suffering.

That is true fellowship.

Have you ever read J. R. R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring?

In the story, the fellowship was made up of nine individuals from varying races and personalities, and different opinions about how to do things. These people didn’t just fellowship by sitting around a fire and telling jokes. That’s not the real fellowship.

Their real fellowship consisted of holding each other accountable for resisting the temptation of a perverted power. It consisted of defending one another from their common enemies. It was their dangerous journey to fight for what was good in the face of evil and death that made them a fellowship.

That’s what church should look like.

My church doesn’t always look like that. As a leader, I realize that we often try so hard to make church entertaining and relevant, that we forget the reason why we’re meeting in the first place.

If that sounds like your church too, don’t despair. Instead, let’s be encouraged to work towards the picture that Paul shows us of what true fellowship looks like.

Let’s start by having real conversations with each other about where we are in our faith. Let’s share in each other’s struggles (1:29-30), commit to journey with and pray for one another through the different seasons of life, and encourage each other to grow in spiritual maturity (2:12).

Because our fellowship is no ordinary earthly fellowship. We were brought together by no less than God Himself for a divine purpose. So let’s work together to fulfil that purpose of sharing His good news with the rest of the world (1:27).

—By Carol Lerh, Singapore

Questions for reflection

  1. What are some ways our friendships in church can focus on sharing the gospel?
  2. Think of one change you can make toward sharing real fellowship with your current Christian community.
  3. In what ways can you partner with the Christians around you in gospel work?
Artwork by Lydia Kathleen @letteringwithlydia

About the author

Carol likes to think and one of the things she constantly thinks about is the height and length and breadth and depth of God’s immeasurable love. The other thing Carol likes to do is write.

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31 replies
  1. Sarina
    Sarina says:

    This is really good. Today’s passage has taught me alot on Fellowship. What we as churches should and must do. It has now opened my mind about going out there as a church and reaching out to the world. We have live it out in the world because thats the purpose of us been here on earth. Spreading the Good News to the world.
    Thank you so much it has bless me so much.

    Reply
  2. Eric Onyait
    Eric Onyait says:

    This is an amazing scripture and it has really encouraged me on how most times I get comfortable instead of looking out for brothers and sisters in church to be accountable to. I have done struggled in this area and I pray to God that He breaks me so I can be a vessel to be used by God through the church.

    Reply
  3. Gracious Wana
    Gracious Wana says:

    I thank God for today’s devotion it is my prayer that God will help me to grow stronger in his word and bring a positive change to the community around me,,,,

    Reply
  4. Laura grace
    Laura grace says:

    Great word. Am so glad l could be part of this. Fellowship is oneness.Personally l haven’t really thought about it in depth. Here in Africa, when you talk about fellowship,we think about having fun with friends and family. I help out with the youth fellowship at church and the women’s as well but all l ever do for that is go visit them at their homes, share the word and then invite them over to my place share the word and eat together and do some activities together, it all revolved around that. For a long time l have understood fellowship as being a physical thing but after reading through this verses, I realise its more than that, it’s spiritual as well. Paul wasn’t with them by that time but yet he thanked them for the fellowship, The great work they kept doing even in his absences.

    Reply
    • Shen
      Shen says:

      Your sharing spoke the most to me. I also want to have a spiritual sense of fellowship. When you wrote of the home visits etc, I see that pattern also in how I do church. And it sometimes feels like going through a set of motions. This devotion and your sharing has given me food for thought.

  5. Richard Johnson
    Richard Johnson says:

    Thanks, minister Carol. This devotion was powerful, and now my attitude towards fellowship has divinely been upgraded through God’s power. God bless you

    Reply
  6. Karren Nales
    Karren Nales says:

    This is true fellowship. Its not just we seat with each other because of entertainment offer in the church service but als9 become accountable to each other in terms of spirituality. Being a sheperd to one another is the real leader should have bond in gentleness,kindness,soft-spoken and calmness. Full of spirituality and talks about goodness of God instead of just any issues about life.

    Reply
  7. Mary
    Mary says:

    This is very encouraging,it has reminded me of how I should live my life has a Christian and what True fellowship is all about.

    Reply
  8. Lawrence kyom
    Lawrence kyom says:

    Fellowship is effective only when we are able to identify individuals most important needs( both spiritual and material needs), and meeting those needs. Fellowship doesn’t end in a church gathering, we have to reach out in the communities as well, our presence and contribution as children of God must be felt by people around us, our lifestyle should attract them, arouse there curiosity about who we are, why we are and How to become like us; all Pointing to Christ Jesus_ ” We are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill cannot be hidden neither do we light a candle and hide it under a bushel _ Thanks for Today’s devotion. More gray.

    Reply
  9. Bella
    Bella says:

    I’m so grateful I joined this group. The teaching is so relevant in our church community. Praise God for the gift of His truth.

    Reply
  10. Mariah Mills
    Mariah Mills says:

    I’ve been hearing alot of teaching on the importance of community as Believers, how essential it is to feel like you’re at it alone. This was another reminder

    Reply
  11. Ronillo Aduna
    Ronillo Aduna says:

    I will never let this passed without comment. This was enlightening, we never know what burden and problem each of us are carrying when we meet and fellowship. This is truly what it meant by a true and no ordinary fellowship we should always do.

    Reply

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