In my last two posts, I’ve written about trusting God (“Show me your faith apart from your works“) and the primary response of that trust, which is love (“That God kind of love“). Trusting God results in loving God and loving others. When we love God and love others, that love will be demonstrated in our lives.
How is it demonstrated? In Scripture, two terms are used as umbrella terms to describe the “now what”: fellowship and discipleship. Not only are these two a direct response to trusting God and love, they are also related to one another.
The first term – fellowship – describes the connection that we have with one another through Jesus Christ. We do not have to build that connection; it is already built for us when the Holy Spirit indwells us – that is, when we are saved by Jesus Christ. Immediately, we are connected with one another because of our mutual connection to God our Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Thus, we can understand why the authors of Scripture would choose a word like “fellowship” to describe this connection. At its foundation, the word “fellowship” points to “sharing.” In this case, what we share is ourselves and our lives. We become part of one anothers’ lives (become “members together with one another”) as we share in the life of God in us.
Now, it’s interesting to talk about the spiritual fellowship and connection that we have with believers all around the world. But, the authors of Scripture primarily talked about real, visible, relational fellowship, the kind of sharing and connection that takes place between people who actually live near one another. We cannot choose who we are connected to – we are connected with everyone who is in Christ. And, as long as we do not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in us, and as long as we submit to his leading, we will find ourselves sharing our lives with all of God’s children that he brings into our life.
This sharing of life – or fellowship – leads directly into “discipleship.” It’s common today to think of “discipleship” as some type of program or class. That’s not what I’m talking about. The foundation of “discipleship” is the idea of being a disciple or “following.” In this case, “discipleship” is about helping one another submit to lordship of Jesus Christ and follow him and his direction in our lives.
Because of our fellowship, we will desire to see one another mature in Jesus Christ and live more and more in a manner worth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God can and will work through us to help one another follow the will of God in our lives. Helping one another walk in obedience to Jesus Christ is what discipleship is all about.
So, we trust God, which is demonstrated in our lives. That faith is primarily demonstrated by an increase in love for God and for others, especially those who could be deemed “unlovable.” The Holy Spirit knits our lives together, and we share our lives with one another. Through sharing or lives with one another, God works through us to help one another follow Jesus Christ.