ONE LORD'S DAY morning back in the 1970's,
congregation at St. Albans, near Charleston, West Virginia, was literally
held hostage at
gun point. An irrational neighbor man had a dispute with the U.S.
expected to gain national attention by doing this awful deed. He
bursted in to the
worship waving a rifle, and pointing it at members of the congregation he
ordered that the
news media be called to come and let him voice his complaints.
Needless to say, it
was a traumatic ordeal for our fellow-Christians that day. It was a
to their ordinarily peaceful worship to God. We have never heard of
such a thing
happening to our people before or since.
But there are those who fail to understand the Christian principles of
love, unity and
fellowship. They actually stand as a barrier in the way of the harmony
ordained should exist among His people. Our remarks will be directed
issue in this article. The early Christians ". . .continued
steadfastly in the
apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in
prayers," we are
told in Acts 2:42.
The word fellowship, from the Greek word KOINONIA, in one form or another
by several terms in the New Testament. Paul told the Philippians I
"For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until
And again to this same congregation he said, "Now ye Philippians
know also, that
in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church
communicated[Lit., had fellowship] with me as concerning giving and
receiving, but ye only.
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my
Again a form of the word KOINONIA is translated communicate in Paul's
writing to the
Galatian churches in 6:6, "Let him that is taught in the word
communicate unto him
that teacheth in all good things" indicating that support was to be
given to those who
preach the gospel. He points out that this type of fellowship in the
spread of the
gospel and care for the saints is what God wants of Christians saying in
"But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices
God is well
pleased." The word for participation fellowship in the support of
the work is
also translated contribution. To the Romans in chapter 15, verse 26,
writer says, "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make
contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."
Inspiration employs this term again and again allowing Christians to see
responsibility in the work of the Church. "Whiles by the
experiment of this
ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel
of Christ, and
for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" (2 Cor.
9:13). Again, Paul
told the Corinthians that the Macedonian churches had set a good example,
with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the
fellowship of the
ministering to the saints" (2 Cor 8:4).
We conclude, therefore, that it means a sharing in common; mutual
activity; a partnership with each other in the blessings of the gospel.
So the grand
old apostle expressed the idea of a joint participation in the body and
blood of the Jesus
when he employed a form of this same word, KOINONIA, in 1 Corinthians 10:16,
of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
The bread which
we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" It
seems that the word
communion is a combination of two words, common and union. Isn't it
wonderful to know
that we, the brothers and sisters in Christ, have fellowship together, or a
participation in the one spiritual body of Jesus which we express by
breaking of the one
loaf in the Lord's supper, and drinking of the one cup.
Many in the city of Jerusalem heard the great message preached on
Pentecost day, (Acts
2). Those that believed were commanded to "Repent and be baptized
remission of sins" (v. 38). This command was consistent with the
Jesus Himself (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:47). And
naturally so because
He told Peter and the other apostles that the Holy Spirit would cause them
to remember all
He ever taught them, and that their sermons would actually be the message of
(Mark 13:11; John 14:26).
THREE THOUSAND ADDED
Now three thousand of these people withdrew from that "untoward
obeying the gospel, and were then added to a great body, the body of Christ
or the church
(Acts 2:41, 47). They were together in their daily activity.
They ate together,
rejoiced and wept together, as well as worshiped together. They loved
one another and
began to look toward each other's welfare. (Read Acts 2:42-47).
We can see from all of this evidence that Christian fellowship is that
that connects all who have been baptized "into the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit," within this great brotherhood in the Lord
All, who truly obey the gospel from the heart, enter into this body
and enjoy this
relationship. Any social barrier, along with discrimination and
disappears among true Christians. Galatians 3:28 teaches that in the church,
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Theoretically and
practically brothers and
sisters in the Lord are one.
We are to think alike (Phil. 4:8; 1 Cor. 1:10). Isn't it some times
that those in earthly relationships who love each other for years grow to
Husbands and wives often can tell what the other is thinking.
brothers and sisters can do the same. So it should be with the
children of God.
The Scriptures insist that we think doctrinally alike, but we need to
develop a close
emotional kinship. This, of course, naturally happens if we love one
another as we
should. We will suffer when those whom we love suffer.
A MODERN EXAMPLE
Recently, the news broadcasts around the world carried reports of deadly
hit Birmingham, Alabama. The fierceness of the storm was reported to
be a magnitude
of five on a scale of one to five. There wereover 100 homes destroyed,
killed and many, many injured in the Birmingham area alone. It
happened about 7:00
P.M. Wednesday night, April 8, 1998. This terrible storm, which had
one person in Mississippi, made its way across the upper part of our county
for about 22
miles, and on through central Alabama eastward to Georgia where it killed
During the next few days, the church members here naturally received an
phone calls from family members, but many more came in from concerned
brothers and sisters
in Christ, calling from distant places all over the nation, just asking,
"Are you all
right?" Our conversations were like, "Yes, we're okay. . . .
memebers of the church are safe. We appreciate your calling so
which they would reply, "Well, we heard about the tornados and hoped
you all weren't
hurt. . . . We were praying for you." This, friend, is the kind of
that the children of God have for one another.
Not only does the family of God in a local congregation worship together
but they love each other, and the work that they conduct is in total harmony
with the idea
of fellowship. You see, "We are laborers together" (Rom.
Paul says, "We are laborers together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9).
or service of God's people is to be in union and cooperation with all the
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell
unity!" (Psa 133:1). He who would purpose to disrupt that
unity has the
condemnation of God resting upon him.
There are a few men, possibly led by personal ambition, who, have
"held the church
hostage." Some have done so for years. They have been a
barrier to unity,
love, harmony and fellowship of the brethren. Such people will offer
threats of harm
to the church if they don't get their way. "You do that and I'll
they shout. . . . "You'd better not call on him or you won't see me and
my family here
anymore." Such people are unreasonable, don't have the spirit of
have people's souls at heart. They are a hindrance to the growth and
the church, and, if they refuse to repent, the church would be better off
We are not talking about a brother or sister who has a wholesome
expectation that all
will conform to the will of God. It is the place of every Christian to
the church teach and practice New Testament principals. But there are
some who expect
to "have their own way, or else. . . ." They reason,
"I've been here
all these years. . . . I've helped build this building. . . . That's my
money in the
treasury. . . . They'd better listen to me. . . . Look, they owe it to
If the leaders of the church don't deal with that attitude the
continue crippled and powerless. It will never be what the Lord would
have the church
WHAT ABOUT DIOTREPHES?
John said, "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to
preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will
deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not
neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that
would, and casteth
them out of the church" (3 John 9,10). John points out a man who
allow the church to fellowship brethren from another congregation.
What a shameful
condition! John said he needed to be dealt with.
A man who refuses to come to peace with his brethren is "implacable,
unmerciful" and condemned. Paul condemns many saying, ". . .
understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable,
knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy
of death, not
only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom.
Brethren, the command of the Word is: "Let us therefore follow
after the things
which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Rom
We must work for that sweet fellowship and peace among ourselves that
demands that we have.