Fellowship. It’s more than potato salad and pies. It’s intimate sharing, a comingling of persons. It’s taking individuals and making them one.
John the apostle in his letter we call 1 John states clearly his intent in proclaiming what he has seen and heard concerning the word of life that they (his audience) have fellowship with “us”. The “us” being the Christian community. “And our fellowship is unto the Father and with his son Jesus Christ.”
This is beautiful but not original with John. He’s simply calling others to the place he was called by Jesus himself. He records in what we call the gospel of John, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
What a promise! “We will come and make our home with them.” This is fellowship. Abiding in the vine, living in relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.’”
John 15:9-17 (NIV)
Notice that the invitation to fellowship with the Father is also an invitation to fellowship with each other. We are not the only ones in the vine. To love God is to love each other. Of course the command to “love each other as I have loved you” would appear right here. Right where the disciples were told “as the Father has loved me, I have loved you.”
The Father’s love is the foundation of the gospel and it became flesh in Christ. Thus, John testifies to what he saw and heard. But the call is for his disciples then and now to do the same. Love each other as they have been loved.
It is an invitation to true fellowship. Not potlucks and parties, but laying down our lives one for another. Today we also receive this invitation to love, an invitation to unity. An invitation to fellowship with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and with believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
“‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’”
John 17:20-21 (NIV).