March 20, 2018 was the official beginning of Spring 2018. However, due to three consecutive Nor’easters, Middle Georgia and a large portion of the US still faced Winter temperatures long after March 20th. As the dates on the calendar – and temperature – changed, Middle Georgia evolved from Winter to Summer without a “Spring Season” in between.
But with all that behind us and the kids out of school, we’ve settled into America’s summertime tradition – vacation, cookouts, family reunions and “all things summer.” At church, work and home, it’s time for friendship and fellowship.
The Greek word for friendship is philia, which means affection, fondness, and love. Our English definition is very similar. Close relationship, mutual affection, and the emotions or conduct of friends all form the bond Americans call friendship.
Koinonia is the Greek word used in the New Testament for fellowship. It means contributory help, participation, sharing in and communion. Although our English definition emphasizes “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests,” the New Testament meaning is much deeper. It emphasizes a common bond that extends much deeper than a friendly association or social gathering – as our English definition suggests. Its use in scripture leads us to focus on and participate in that which we have in common. Regardless of our background or ethnicity, the thread that binds us together – Jesus Christ – is the origin of the new life we share. That is the fellowship!
Regardless of the definition you use, Summer Time provides the occasions and of course the weather for people to get together and share. A church picnic, family reunion and/or family vacation provides the occasion and setting to share the bonds that link us.
Jesus used The Last Supper as such an event. The “breaking of bread” that America traditionally calls fellowship occurred. But more importantly the sharing of the bonds that would eventually define the life of the disciples and future believers transpired.
As we enjoy “all things summer” remember to share the spiritual ties that bind us. We hail from different parts of the country with different backgrounds. Different ethnicities, large family, small family, college degree, GED, no degree. Yet the bond that Jesus created bridged the gap that once separate us. The gap that once separated us from God and from each other.
As we embrace our friendships and cling to the fellowship of those in our inner circle, let’s not forget that these relationships are much deeper. We can softly move our friendships – if they are not already – to the inner circle of fellowship.
Psalms 8:4 asks the question, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” The answer is the God of all creation desires to fellowship with His creation. God desires that we share in the knowledge of all His attributes. As we share in who He is, we fellowship with Him and each other.
July 2018 is as good a time as any to move our friendships into biblical fellowship by sharing the gospel. I John 1:3 states, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Pastor Morgan would probably tell us there is a problem in the text. How can we fellowship – break bread, share a meal, associate – with someone who is not here? The answer must be spiritual. John is speaking in terms of biblical fellowship.
As we share what we have in common – Jesus Christ – and participate in the new life our relationship with him has given us, we not only fellowship with each other, we fellowship with the God of all creation.
Written by Henry Hopson, Jr.