Philosophy Lite: The need For Christian fellowship runs deep
By Raymond Smith
"The primary joy of life is acceptance, approval, the sense of appreciation and companionship of our human comrades. Many men do not understand that the need for fellowship is really as deep as the need for food, and so they go through life accepting many substitutes for genuine, warm, simple." - Joshua Loth Liebman
Who wouldn't want acceptance and approval? Many earn it the honorable way, but sad to say, some get it through gangs and lowlife peer groups.
We need each other. As John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself ... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
In today's society, we have become quite independent. Air conditioning, TV and materialism tend to keep us at home and isolated - not feeling a need for fellowship. When sickness or problems arise, we start feeling the need for outside help. A dog or cat might provide some companionship, but nothing takes the place of a caring friend.
The fellowship of people of like interests is quite common; that is, people who meet together to share their common interest in photography, gardening, stamp collecting, woodworking or fishing, for example. There is also a fellowship of drinking, carousing and gamesmanship, but they are lacking in depth, failing to supply a close personal and meaningful relationship.
In the late '70s, Billy Graham spoke on the subject of loneliness and was deluged by more mail than "for virtually any other TV message I have ever preached." There are relationships that do satisfy, and there are our relationship with God and our relationship with fellow believers. These are the relationships of depth and meaning. The meeting together of photographers provides friendship and camaraderie, while the meeting together of Christians provides brotherhood.
The Bible gives us many injunctions to fellowship together as children of God. From Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more, as ye see the day approaching."
My Online Bible computer program has a feature for finding Bible scriptures by typing in phrases. When I typed in "one another," I found at least 25 obligations we have to one another, such as: love one another, forgive, comfort, encourage, submit and admonish one another, etc.
There are many practical reasons that Christians need each other. From Ecclesiastes 4:10 comes this word: "Two are better than one ... for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up."
One of the interesting developments today in many denominations is the formation of small groups. These groups meet in restaurants and in homes for Bible study, discussion and fellowship. These meetings substantiate the need for Christian fellowship.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.