Word Alive! - Reflections on Bible

by Dr. Paulson Pulikkottil


Church is more a fellowship than an organisation. Have you ever wondered how the church survived in difficult times in history especially when there was no place to meet? This is one of most amazing thing about Christian church: it can exist and thrive without a physical structure in the form of a chapel of cathedral. On the contrary, history has proved that sometimes structure kills the church! I don't take this as an argument against having a church building. What is more important is the sense of belonging, oneness and togetherness that believers feel among themselves. What we need to today is to build churches that would survive even without structures.

Fellowship is not just being together. If we lock up a dozen people who believe in Jesus together in a room there is not going to be fellowship (however high the temperature in the room is!). Fellowship is more than people being together.

The original work Greek word for fellowship means "sharing." Fellowship simply means to have something in common; it is something that we have in common to share. Real fellowship happens when two or more people relate to each other in such a way that there is an exchange. Real fellowship is when we feel that I can give something to another person and the other person can give me something so that both of us feel built up and edified.

The church fails when people do not establish relationship by sharing with each other. How is this possible in churches which are so diverse as Noah's ark? There are people from different races, languages, income groups, and professions. The basis of their relationship through sharing (fellowship) can not be at the material level or that of interests. We are so diverse as far as our social standing and income status and in a host o other ways.

Fellowship ought to be based on sharing something higher than this worldly, and material if it has to be eternal and meaningful. This is what we find in the First Epistle of John: "We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."

When John makes this invitation he makes one thing very loud and clear. The church is a group of people who have something common with God. He is inviting the rest of the members of the church to a fellowship with God the father. We have something common with God.

Remarkable thing is that John is addressing a congregation. Is he trying to sell cotton in Liverpool? No! A congregation does not guarantee fellowship. Worshipping together or singing together need not necessarily ensure that there is fellowship among the members of that body. He is asking the churches he is addressing to cultivate meaningful fellowship among its members.

Fellowship is the relationship between people who have a relationship with God. What is common among them is their relationship with Father and the Son Jesus Christ. It is not their relationship with each other that matters, but their personal relationship with God that result in their relationship to each other. This is a dynamics that is often neglected in churches today.

The reason number one why I walk into this Church is not that I am baptised in the Church, nor I live close by this Church, nor I am a friend of the Pastor- but I have a relationship with God the Father and God the son. It is not a belief that I share but a relationship.

There was a time in my life when I looked for proof for the existence of God. Later when my intellectual quest was somewhat satisfied I believed in God. I believed that Jesus is my saviour. I became member of a so-called church or fellowship.

Now I have come to a stage in my spiritual and intellectual life where even if all the intellectual basis for my belief in God and Jesus is destroyed I would still believe in Him. The reason is that the way I am related to God is now more or less through my experience of God. I have tasted and found that Jesus is good. I probably used my intellect as a ladder to find Jesus, but I continue the relationship because of experience of him which is getting deeper and deeper. I do not need the ladder now, unless I am thinking of getting down from this height. As long as I decide to stay here, why I do not need the ladder.

In my life in this world and the church I translate that into horizontal relationship. That is what generate meaningful fellowship. This is why fellowship with people who have experienced God is deeper and meaningful than people who just believe in God.

Tell me how many times your heart was warmed and encouraged when you heard someone telling you about something that God has done for them. You could most of the time match it with something that God has done for you.
Christian Fellowship among brothren is the most meaningful and sweetest thing in the world because it is a relationship deeper than knowledge of God, a fellowship with God that is based on experience of God.

Someone mused once:
"Oh life with Saints above! That is glory!
Life with Saints below, O! that is another story!"

Let us cultivate fellowship so meaningful and rich so that life with saints below will also be glory! Let us strive to know God and him alone so that we are rich in God enough to share with others.

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Copyright 2001.  Dr. Paulson Pulikkottil
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