We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 3:3)
Bible teacher R.C.Sproul tells of a memorable incident while in eastern Europe. En route from Hungary to Romania with his wife and another couple, the travellers stiffened when soldiers boarded the train.
The largest man in the uniformed posse approached Sproul’s party gruffly asking in broken English for their travel documents, including US passports. The other woman in the group had a paper bag on her lap. After reviewing the documents, the soldier sternly demanded she reveal the contents.
She pulled out a Bible. “Give me book”, he demanded.
With a frown he declared “you not citizens of U.S.” They protested. He opened her Bible.
“No, no, no”, he affirmed authoritatively, pointing to Philippians 3:20 (“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”)
“You citizens of heaven. I too am citizen of heaven” he stated triumphantly.
He gave an unforgettable bear hug – and was gone.
Years later, Sproul reflected on the incident as being the Lord’s encouragement to equip for a spiritually difficult task ahead.
The unusual incident also illustrates biblical fellowship – we sense a mystical bond with folks with whom we would otherwise have no natural connection, because we together are the Body of Christ.
The Greek term koinonia is usually translated as fellowship, but is also translated as communion, sharing, or contribution to. It denotes a partnering together, a mutual participation in something spiritual, eternal, and beautiful. Like a garden, diverse in colour and kind, and yet visually attractive.
As John explains above, our fellowship is first with the Father and with the Son. Additionally, Paul speaks of “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14). We therefore understand that through faith in Christ, our fellowship is with the Triune God.
And that fellowship with the God-head is foundational to our partnership with each other.
In other words, when it comes to biblical koinonia, the vertical supports the horizontal.
Takeaway: Lord, even if I don’t naturally like other believers, I’m called to love them, to partner with them, to share with them, and to contribute towards their spiritual health. Even though not natural – and often not easy – You call me to embrace other believers as an expression of love to You.