Normally on a Sunday morning, I write briefly and so honor the commitment to rest, to take Sabbath in all of its beauty. Today, I must make some comments about fellowship. I will try to be brief.
In studying 1 John this week, the facts about fellowship have dug deep into my heart. I have an introverted personality and struggled with it, especially in my teen years when we feel all eyes are on us and we will never measure up.
People used to say things like “I wish you wouldn’t talk so much” or “Can’t you be quiet back there” as we rode along in the car. It was not because I was talking but because I wasn’t. Those kind of comments were kind of hurtful. Because I didn’t really know how to join in the conversations people were having all around me. I didn’t know what to say or if I wanted to say something I was afraid I’d be laughed at or misunderstood.
There was one year in junior high when not one of my friends had classes with me. It was a lonely year for this introvert who had a hard time finding another group. I spent a lot of time standing around, being quiet, and longing for fellowship.
As I grew older and a little wiser, I realized I could learn to be more proactive in conversations, in meeting new people, in making friends. And I put myself out there with all of my insecurities, making eye contact and speaking directly to someone passing me in the school halls. To my surprise, people responded, and I realized the problem was not that they didn’t want to be friendly but that I was too afraid.
Years passed. I am much more comfortable making new friends now. My inner introvert still longs for some quiet and space at times, but I am being truthful when I say I love fellowship. I love gathering with women friends in groups or one-on-one. And I equally enjoy when Sweet William and I get together with other couples. I can even enter a room of virtual strangers and introduce myself, though this one is hard for me still.
So when John the beloved disciple talks about having “fellowship with us” it warms something in me. He speaks of a common bond of friendship with Jesus, the One John had seen and heard and touched. And he offers that to his readers. Fellowship with the Father and the Son. And the result that follows is joy.
There are lots of surface relationships in this world. Friendship for what one can get out of it. Professional relationships for the purpose of networking. Using people for one’s own purpose.
But there is a friendship that is real, and it is lasting, and it originates with God who sent Jesus in human form yet in His own holy likeness. He reached out His hand to invite us into fellowship with Him. Then He stretched out his arms on a cross and to fulfill the just requirements of Holy God. And the doors of Heaven were thrown wide open.
John says this is what love is. We were loved first by God so that we could love others and have fellowship.
And that, my friends, is pure joy.
Sunday grace to you. Relish the gift of fellowship with God and with believers today, no matter your personality. And reach out to someone who is standing alone on the sidelines. She may be just waiting for someone to love her.