” that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. ” 1 John 1:3-7
Scripture is replete with the concept of Oneness and Unity as it pertains to God as One God, and His church which is made up of many parts (individuals) but is Unified as ONE body. As we dive into our Women’s Bible Study on 1 John (ABIDE, 1,2,3 John-Jen Wilkin) we begin with 1 John 1-2:3 and we encounter John’s testimony of Christ which is rooted in his personal, sensory experience of walking with Him and living alongside Him as he participated in His ministry. Immediately following the foundation of his credibility as a witness, he introduces this concept of fellowship. I found the English definition lacking, defined as “friendly association with people who share one’s interests” so to really grasp the heart of this message we must turn to the Greek word “koinonia” which is defined as follows:
κοινωνία koinōnía, koy-nohn-ee’-ah; from G2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction:—(to) communicate(-ation), communion, (contri-)distribution, fellowship.
My immediate thought upon reading the definition is “oneness” , “unity” or “participation”. In this passage the goal is unity as believers, unity with one another even as we desire unity with Christ; a shared participation in the gifts He has given, the Truth He has spoken and the strength that He supplies. When we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we walk in unity with Him and one another. There is a powerful bond of shared understanding, communion, and participation only found in our shared bond in Christ. Apart from Him and walking in obedience to Him we cannot experience this fellowship.
Clearly the word fellowship has very strong connotations in American culture and for myself the word immediately brings to mind images of a social gathering, the choice to go somewhere and spend time with a group of people that I would not typically spend time with during my day to day activities. Something formal and planned and on some level exceptional. But this concept in Scripture is completely different. This fellowship can take place anywhere. This connection of hearts on the deepest of levels, a participation in relationship that is not passive but active and under-girded with a deep knowing of the other and the undercurrent of valuing the other as a fellow creation of God, in need of His grace. There is no formality, no pretense, no separateness in this fellowship but rather a continuation of the matters of the heart carried on in community with others.
I especially love the progression of this passage as it moves forward into 1 John 2 warning us not to walk in sin, but then immediately reminding us that when we do sin, Christ is our advocate before the Father. Our sin is exposed most clearly as we walk in relationship with one another. Our rough edges often grate on each other and we find things exposed in us that are in fact not yet conformed to the image of Christ. Our need of Him becomes glaring as relationship peels away pretense and the masks we sometimes hide behind and exposes the heart. His sacrifice is the foundation for our fellowship with the Father, our invitation into His Presence through Jesus’ advocacy for us, not because of anything we have done but because of what He has won for us through His blood. This same sacrifice is our foundation for fellowship with one another as we can only offer each other that which we have already received from Christ. As He transforms our lives individually through the Hope of the Gospel, He transforms our relationships as we walk out His love, His grace and His forgiveness with one another.
God is so gracious to use this book of the Bible to teach us to desire true fellowship and inspiring us to move beyond isolation into true FELLOWSHIP a place of safety where we are known and loved and SEEN as we are and loved anyway. A place where we are challenged to not only know but live the Truth of the Gospel in our relationships with one another. This place where we have great need of God’s grace as we extend it to one another and where we see His mercy most clearly as we see our own need.
TOMORROW, February 13, we meet to discuss weeks 2-3 of the ABIDE Women’s Bible Study from 6:00-7:00pm at Bayou View Baptist Church in John Paul’s Classroom. Join us!