Last Friday night, my wife and I went to a Christmas party. It was for our small group at church and there were about eight couples there. Our teacher’s parents opened up their home to us and we had a wonderful dinner of lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and cheesecake for dessert. It was a great time of fellowship with friends.
For our gift exchange we went with the white elephant format. This is basically where you bring a gift of less than five dollars in value (bonus points if you are able to “re-gift” something that you don’t need) to give away. Each person takes a number and then chooses a gift in numerical order. As the gifts are opened, you have the choice of choosing an unopened gift or stealing a gift from someone else. There are many variations, but we played where a gift could only be stolen 3 times and on the third time it was out of play.
The gifts were as varied as the personalities in the room. Some of the gifts included a box of records, clothesline and clothespins, an air powered plunger, serving dishes, and a singing pig.
But the best gift of all was this beauty, now standing like a sentinel on my mantle:
Your eyes don’t deceive you;
it’s an 18″ tall, toilet-paper dispensing mallard.
I didn’t even know they made such a thing, but if I had, it would have been right at the top of my Christmas list. Well, maybe not at the top.
I was number 7 and had received a lovely serving bowl set. Unfortunately for my wife it was stolen from me. However, this opened me up to be able to steal this iconic and wonderful gift from someone else.
The duck was mine! (Along with a sideways glance from my bride as if to say, what are you going to do with that?)
We all enjoyed a good laugh and had a wonderful night and this reminded me how important fellowship is to the Christian life.
The Power of Fellowship
Fellowship is an old-sounding word. You may be more familiar with small-group, life-group, home-group or some other word. But the end result is the same.
Fellowship is the gathering of like-minded individuals that lift each other up, study the word of God, and disciple one another toward a holier, more godly life.
It is easy to go to church and anonymously sit in the big service and never engage in fellowship. I’m glad you are in church, but if that is all you are doing you are missing out on so much more.
So here are three reasons Christian fellowship is so important:
Fellowship is vital for our soul-condition
Each Sunday morning I get to gather with a group of other believers that encourage me and lift me up in prayer. They walked with us through the dark times of my Dad being sick. They are faithful in prayer and support. They encourage me. My soul is literally lifted up when I am in the company of other believers.
In addition, fellowship with other believers strengthens us to withstand spiritual attack. When we try to walk our faith alone it is easy to get picked off and go off course. Fellowship with others gives us a safety net to fall back on and a support system to keep us going.
Fellowship is necessary for growth
While the message that a pastor brings speaks to the needs of the large group, a small group setting allows you to dig deeper into the Bible and apply it to your life in a very specific way. When you have a group of individuals that you respect and trust you are able to gain more application for your life. We share our struggles together and work through them with direction from the Word of God.
Fellowship strengthens our walk
Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Have you ever tried to use a dull pair of scissors or a dull knife?
When things are dull they cease to be effective. It is true of a tool and it is true of a person. Fellowship with other believers causes us to become stronger and sharper. We are more able to carry out the mission that God has given us and we are better equipped to fulfill it to completion and success.
Fellowship gives us the ability to bounce our ideas off of one another and craft them into action.
If you aren’t plugged in to a local church I would encourage you to seek one out and visit some small groups. No one likes walking in to a new group, but it is vitally important to do it anyway.
When you find the right group you will know it and it will transform your walk, your faith, and your life.