Drawn Together in Fellowship

I recently saw a Facebook advertisement for a church in our area that said our emphasis is spiritual, not material or social. I appreciate the motive behind the ad as there are many congregations out there, both inside and outside the churches of Christ, that appear to deemphasize the life-changing power of scripture, while promoting fluff, fun, and frivolity. What a congregation chooses to focus on does make a difference. The statistics are clear, and have been for decades now, that local churches who focus on expository preaching and teaching, rooted in the authoritative word of God, are steadily growing in numbers and influence. A congregation should never apologize for holding up and proclaiming truth, 1 Timothy 3.15. The best plan for church growth is not found in the latest gimmick promoted in a best-selling book making it around evangelical circles, it is the relevant and joyful proclamation of God's word, and the powerful testimony of changed lives.

But let's focus again on what was said in that social media advertisement. I'm not sure as to what exactly is so virtuous about not stressing the material, (is being thankful for a building to meet in something to be frowned upon?) but I do know that the social life of members inside a congregation is of absolute importance and is very much a part of their spiritual growth, maturity, and up-building. Therefore, it should never be downplayed. When the first Christians began meeting, it wasn't just about the Sunday worship service. What they stressed was a whole-life response to our Lord, which involved social interaction with each other on a daily basis! Acts 2.44 says that all the believers were together and held all things in common. The early church actively worked at fostering togetherness! In other words, these were people who had close and meaningful relationships with each other. They were clearly drawn together in fellowship. The extensiveness of their shared lives was evident to all. It was attractive and drew others in to investigate what was going on. This is why we repeatedly read of incredible church growth throughout the book of Acts.

It is in our social lives with fellow Christians that we:
  • carry out our purpose of doing good works or deeds, bringing praise to God's name, Ephesians 1.12; Titus 2.14; Galatians 6.9-10. Local churches need to be busy thinking up creative ways for people to facilitate doing good to others (inside and outside the church), thus displaying the wisdom of God, Matthew 5.16.
  • encourage one another daily, so that no one is hardened by sin's deception, Hebrews 3.13. This may be the most important reason Christians need to be together outside the formal worship assembly. Satan is on the attack 24/7 and what better way to protect one another than by being together in the various social activities of life? Who you primarily associate with matters!
  • comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God, 2 Corinthians 1.4. When the journey of life calls for us to walk through a valley, we know we are not alone, because our God often works through the relationships we have with others in order to minister to our needs. You can't do this effectively if you do not know your brethren on a up-close and personal basis.

Your spiritual life is so much more than what happens on Sunday. If your only interaction with God and His people is just each Sunday, then chances are strong that your spiritual life is not what it should be. Corporate worship is essential ... but there is certainly more to your spiritual life than that. Christianity involves your whole life: mental, physical, emotional, and social. Instead of ignoring or talking down the opportunities to be together, we should be encouraging them more and more. Show me a Christian that is strongly connected with other Christians and I'll show you a Christian that is heading toward maturity.

Matthew Allen

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