The Power of Fellowship Part 3

Continuing from Part 2, remember what Jesus expects of us. “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

So now let’s focus on the Lord’s commands for our Kingdom community for everyday and/or the weekly worship gathering. What is your responsibility when you gather with your Christian friends?

1/ “Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another” [Mark 9:50] When we choose not to fight with each other but keep the peace we obey God and love our brothers.

The context in Mark12 started with the disciples arguing about which one of them was the greatest. They had a lot to learn and Christ gave them a complete lesson on the extreme importance of being godly. Cutting off body parts and doing whatever it takes to live right must have left them embarrassed.

Have salt in yourselves (pres. imper.) points to the disciples’ need to “have salt” which is good (not worthless) within themselves continually. Here “salt” depicts what distinguishes a disciple from a nondisciple (cf. Matt. 5:13; Luke 14:34). A disciple is to maintain his allegiance to Jesus at all costs and to purge out destructive influences (cf. Mark 9:43-48).

The second command, Be at peace (pres. imper.) with each other is based on the first command and rounds out the discussion provoked by the disciples’ strife (vv. 33-34). In essence Jesus said, “Be loyal to Me and then you will be able to maintain peace with one another instead of arguing about status” (cf. Rom. 12:16a; 14:19). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.)

If you do not see peace in your local church know this, there is something very wrong with people inside the group that are not narrow road followers of Jesus. Prove your faith and salvation by being a peacemaker.

2/ “Be kindly affectionate to one another” (Romans 12:10) The actual meaning of this command is radical and unheard of. The Amplified Bible pulls out the Greek meaning with these words, “[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.” Romans 12:9-10 (AMP)

Just as emotionally fond of your natural family [children, parents, etc.], we are told to have the same unflinching love for our local church family. The Greek word for “kindly affectionate” is a compound word, “philos” (a friend) and “storge” (cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children). – Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. The strength of this combination throws out the norm for the narrow road follower of Jesus. Cementing our families together with such self sacrificing love is a game changer and frankly few will go to this length in obedience to God’s will. But a local church that so loves each other shines so bright inside their city that people see God’s presence!

Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)
13  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14  You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

3/ “Agree to have compassion on one another” (Romans 12:14-16; 1 Peter 3:8) The strength of this command is again the Greek words chosen to explain to us this action of love.

Be ye all of one mind. Romans 12:16. The word here used (ομοφρων) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, of the same mind; like-minded; and the object is to secure harmony in their views and feelings. Having compassion one of another. Sympathizing, (συμπαθεις) entering into one another’s feelings, and evincing a regard for each other’s welfare. Romans 12:15. Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:26, John 11:35. The Greek word here used does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It describes that state of mind which exists when we enter into the feelings of others as if they were our own, as the different parts of the body are affected by that which affects one. 1 Corinthians 12:26. – Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.

Decide to merge yourself so deeply into the lives of your brothers so that you can weep right along with your hurting Christian brother and also truly be excited and happy with them in their triumphs and victories. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Romans 12:14-16 (NKJV)

4/ “Accept one another just like Christ accepted us” (Romans 15:7) Accept into your inner circle of friends all believers and give them hospitality and care.

Paul says, “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors.” Romans 15:5-8 (NLT2)

I love how Barnes explains what acceptance is all about.

Now the God of patience—The God who is “himself” long-suffering, who bears patiently with the errors and faults of his children, and who can “give” patience, may he give you of his Spirit, that you may bear patiently the infirmities and errors of each other. The example of God here, who bears long with his children, and is not angry soon at their offences, is a strong argument why Christians should bear with each other. If God bears long and patiently with “our” infirmities, “we” ought to bear with each other.

And consolation—Who gives or imparts consolation.

To be like-minded …—Greek To think the same thing; that is, to be united, to keep from divisions and strifes.

According to Christ Jesus—According to the example and spirit of Christ; his was a spirit of peace. Or, according to what his religion requires. The name of Christ is sometimes thus put for his religion; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Ephesians 4:20. If all Christians would imitate the example of Christ, and follow his instructions, there would be no contentions among them. He earnestly sought in his parting prayer their unity and peace; John 17:21-23. – Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.

5/ “Have the same anxious concern (care) for everybody with no division” (no clicks) [1 Corinthians 12:25,26] Be as anxious for the health and well being of your fellow Christian as you do for your own wife, kids, or brother and sister.

Should have the same care. Should care for the same thing; should equally regard the interests of all, as we feel an equal interest in all the members and parts of the body, and desire the preservation, the healthy action, and the harmonious and regular movement of the whole. Whatever part of the body is affected with disease or pain, we feel a deep interest in its preservation and cure. The idea is, that no member of the church should be overlooked or despised; but that the whole church should feel a deep interest for, and exercise a constant solicitude over, all its members. – Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.

6/ “Serve one another” (be a slave) (Galatians 5:13) Make yourself available to each believer helping them as you are able, filling in the gaps and weaknesses they have with your abilities and talents.

This is a given because Jesus made this clear from the beginning as we read in Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT2), “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” And in John He makes it clear that the Holy Spirit serves the Father and Jesus, and Jesus serves the Father. The Trinity highly values humility and service.

But to live it and not just generally feel we are humble, we must prove ourselves in how we conduct ourselves inside the local church. Do you passively go to worship services and run right out so you do not have to obey this command? Or do you stay and meet your fellow disciples and find ways to serve them? Do you connect with the others of your local church and obey Christ’s commands?

The Greek word translated serve (doulos) means to be a slave to (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary) :- be in bondage, (do) serve (-ice). – Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.

To willingly enslave yourself to the needs of others is not normal either, at least not in America. So taking serving seriously shows great love and humility.

7/ “Bear with one another” (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13; James 5:9) Suffer without complaint, bear with the irritations that your fellow believers carelessly rub against you.

As Paul says, “Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other.” Ephesians 4:2 (Phillips NT) Only a true believer mean enough to themselves to remember their past sin and changed to live in the meekness gained through salvation can make the allowances commanded here.
lowliness—In classic Greek, the meaning is meanness of spirit: the Gospel has elevated the word to express a Christian grace, namely, the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves [Trench].

meekness—that spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people (2 Sam. 16:11; compare Gal 6:1; 2Ti 2:25; Titus 3:2). It is only the lowly, humble heart that is also meek (Col 3:12). As “lowliness and meekness” answer to “forbearing one another in love” (compare “love,” Eph 4:15, 16), so “long-suffering” answers to (Eph 4:4) “endeavoring (Greek, ‘earnestly’ or ‘zealously giving diligence’) to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity between men of different tempers, which flows from the presence of the Spirit, who is Himself ‘one,’ Eph 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace” (the “bond” by which “peace” is maintained, namely, “love,” Col 3:14, 15 [Bengel]; or, “peace” itself is the “bond” meant, uniting the members of the Church [Alford]).

– A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments.

All saints MUST learn that God sends people around you to teach you Christ-like character. Some lessons are harder than others, but the understanding that those who irritate you are the chiesels God uses to chip away the unwanted attitudes and character that is not Christlike. Make room for those Christians or like a spiritual mentor patiently help them to grow in the Lord.

8/ “Be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32; James 4:11) Be easy and soft in attitude and action to all Christians in your local church.

And going right along with the last command, kindness is easy to show to the people you like, but it takes a concerted effort to love enough to be kind to the unlikable.  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT2)

We are told to be kind to those that are hard to be kind to. When you are offended you want to be bitter, angry, throw harsh words back at them, and tell others how terrible that person is to do what they did to you. Inside and outside the church conflict happens. There are no excuses for anyone with a mean streak or evil tongue. Sometimes it is a simple misunderstanding. No matter what, we are called to be kind in spite of “those people”.

But also, there are no excuses for your revenge and anger either. No one can steal your joy. When unkind words or actions come your way what is truly in your heart comes out. Again meekness (that spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men) is revealed in a true saint, but great pride and sin is exposed in those who react with “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Thank God for the test and repent!

9/ “Forgive one another” (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Grant your Christian brother a favor by delivering them from their wrong doing toward you and forgetting about it.

In the same section of Ephesians we used in the last command we find “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT2)

If it was easy to bear with one another, be kind to one another, and forgive one another we would not need to be commanded. But the miraculous transformation of salvation altered who we are from within. Christians, true followers of Jesus, have the Holy Spirit within driving us with floods of righteousness and grace.

John explains it very simply. “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.

So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 1 John 3:11-15 (NLT2)

“And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.” 1 John 3:23-24 (NLT2)

We really have only two choices hate or forgiveness. “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” 1 John 4:20-21 (NLT2)

10/ “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9) Change your attitude from isolationism to an open door policy. Without murmuring invite the church members over to your house and show them the same friendship you show your immediate family.

As it is written in Amplified Bible translation it is easier to understand, “Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him). ” 1 Peter 4:9 (AMP)

From the beginning of the church we are taught to open our homes and share meals and friendship. But again many Americans will not make that big of step and really become best friends in Jesus. Instead we keep them at arms length but hang out with family and the ungodly. But with an Acts 2 culture shift and cementing our families together we have the power to influence the ungodly together.

11/ “Teach one another” (Colossians 3:16) In any caring community of people, becoming humble teachers by example and experience benefit all and help everyone excel. Just like parents teach their children to become mature, everyone must love God enough to become wise teachers and love each other enough to help each member of the church grow and mature.

The Amplified Bible says, “Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 (AMP)

This does not mean we are all preachers, or we do not need preachers, but as parents, spouses, and friends we help each other grow in spiritual wisdom. Since wisdom is taking knowledge and seeing how it works or applies to our lives from God’s perspective. Information or random facts are useless if you need to repair the engine of your vehicle. But an experienced and wise repairman can carefully use his knowledge to fix it.

In fact we must take the responsibility of helping others understand and live the teaching and commands of Jesus. That is what a disciple of Jesus does, they make disciples.

Remember… FELLOWSHIP is living life together as a church full of BEST FRIENDS united in a strong partnership, close social union, deep communication, and common sharing.

It only works when it is driven by God’s love deep inside you, no political or antichrist social order forced upon men will ever duplicate this powerful life. So when you personally take these commands seriously, obey them joyfully, and freely give yourself to your local church you will begin to really experience the Kingdom of God here on earth!

Also, remember what Jesus expects of you. “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

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