As I write this, I’m working on a manuscript chapter on being devoted to the fellowship, one of four basic devotions we read about in Acts 2:42. In that context, the disciples were devoted to one another, and part of that devotion involved something called fellowship.
Fellowship, κοινωνία (koinonia), goes well beyond “hanging out” together at some church function. This is a term of participation, of shared, mutual benefit. It is deep involvement in the life of the other.
But this deep involvement in the life of the other extends well beyond just those in the body of Christ..
Fellowship With the Father & Son
…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
– 1 John 1:3, ESV
In our case, as Christ-followers, our fellowship extends to adoption as children of God.1 We are called into fellowship with the very God of creation2 as children of the Father.
Knowing he was going to die a gruesome death the following day, Jesus prayed the longest prayer we have from him recorded in scripture. It is 26 verses long and constitutes the entirety of John 17.
In this priestly prayer, Jesus prays for you and for me as those who believe in him through the message of the disciples. Jesus prays “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”3
This is the heart of Jesus’ the night before he was put to death. Jesus wanted his church to be one with each other just as he and the Father are one. And then he prays that we may be “in” the Son and the Father just as the Son and the Father are in one another.
The apostle Paul says that God has called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ.4 I cannot imagine stronger fellowship language than being in the Father and in the Son, even as I try to wrap my mind around what it means.
Fellowship & Light
Scripture is replete with the light and darkness motif. We know that light is never overcome by darkness, but rather light always drives out darkness. We know that light is identified with truth and darkness with non-truth. We know that light reveals what is hidden while darkness hides and obscures. We know that light is required for life, and that darkness will kill life.
Fellowship requires light. This is not an intuitive concept. If we were asked, “What do we need for fellowship?” our first response is unlikely to be “We need light.” But look at what John says.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
– 1 John 1:5-7, ESV
For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
– Isaiah 4:17-19, ESV
When we have koinonia with the Father, he promises to turn darkness before us into light and makes our rough road into level ground.5 We have been delivered from the power of darkness,6 and we no longer fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather we expose them.7
1. Ephesians 1:5
2. 1 Corinthians 1:9
3. John 17:21
4. 1 Corinthians 1:9
5. Isaiah 42:16
6. Colossians 1:13
7. Ephesians 5:11