Showing posts with label Fellowship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fellowship. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Quote of the Day (47)

“He hated congregational religion. He hated the smiles and the manners of the Sunday-dressed Scottish Protestant, the emphasis on a communion not with God but with your neighbours. He had tried seven churches of various denominations in Edinburgh, and had found none to be to his liking. He had tried sitting for two hours at home of a Sunday, reading the Bible and saying a prayer, but somehow that did not work either. He was caught; a believer outwith his belief. Was a personal faith good enough for God? Perhaps …”

— Ian Rankin, Knots & Crosses

Monday, July 03, 2023

Anonymous Asks (256)

“Why is fellowship so important for Christians?”

The early church devoted itself to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers. The critical importance of three of these to church life should be obvious to anyone. However, the unique role fellowship plays in the life of Christ’s body may not leap out to the uninitiated reader of the book of Acts in quite the same way.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Mismeetings of the Christian Church

“Blest be the tie that binds
 Our hearts in Christian love:
 The fellowship of kindred minds
 Is like to that above.”

So sang the congregation.

And they sang it every Sunday.

They sang it whenever it was announced that they had a visitor or new congregant come among them.

A nice gesture, wasn’t it?

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Promoting Fellowship

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

Over four hundred years later the risen Christ asked two of his followers, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other?” It is a question we sometimes need to ask ourselves.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Of Folds and Flocks

The Lord Jesus used the model of a flock when foretelling Pentecost and the formation of his church. He said this flock would need only one Shepherd, meaning himself. He thereby ensured his sheep would be brought safely home at the end of the day. None of his flock would be missing and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it, for he gave to each believer eternal life and no one could pluck them from his hand.

In this teaching the Lord was preparing his Jewish disciples for a hiatus in God’s program for establishing Israel as the head of the nations.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

In and Among

“I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them.”

You and I were saved for a reason: to have fellowship with God. To know, love, commune with, enjoy and be enjoyed by him forever.

Now, that may not be the reason you became a Christian or decided to live like one. Probably it wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t the reason I did. My reasons were all about me. I had been experiencing the consequences of a series of selfish, ill-advised choices, and I didn’t like them at all. But I had been brought up in a Christian home, and I knew the answer to my problems was obedience to Christ. So the day finally came when I hit rock bottom, gave up and said, “You win, Lord.”

That was pretty much the process. I wasn’t exactly looking for fellowship. I’m not sure I even knew what that was.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Fellows in the Same Ship

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Scott Mannion believes in the value of fellowship: the communal spirit; taking ownership of problem-solving at the local level, rather than looking to government for answers; “distributing the burden of cognition”, as he puts it. He’s promoting fellowship vigorously, because he believes top-down solutions to our problems are simply not working.

Tom: Mannion’s YouTube video is the first time in a very long while that I’ve heard the word “fellowship” used outside a purely religious context. He certainly gets the concept right. IC, this one was your baby: what was it about the video that grabbed you?

Friday, April 02, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Let’s Get Together

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Recently asked on an Internet philosophy site:

“If God is everywhere, why do Christians have congregations?”

We Christians may think the question a bit clueless, but to someone who doesn’t know the first thing about the Church or about God’s purposes in establishing it, it’s not unreasonable to consider.

Tom: Immanuel Can, the man has a point. God IS everywhere. You and I can call on him anytime from anywhere, and we’re awfully grateful for it. So why exactly do we get together?

Immanuel Can: In a word, relationship.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Mining the Minors: Jonah (18)

When God gives a mission to one of his servants, there is always more than one thing going on. He is not just sending a message or getting a job done, but also teaching his most faithful followers more about himself.

We should expect this. He is God, after all. If anyone is equipped to play multi-dimensional chess, it is the Divine Mind.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Eating and drinking to the glory of God?

What a strange idea. I get the “eating” part, and I get the idea of “glorifying God”. But what does our action of eating have to do with God’s glory?

That’s going to take some explaining.

A Meal and Love

I have a friend who has the gift of hospitality. Watching him for many years has totally convinced me of the incredible power of that gift. More than anyone I’ve ever met, he has a knack for making his home a place where people feel welcomed, warmed, loved and fed.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Flyover Country: 3 John

The most enthusiastic reception I’ve ever gotten at a local church was the day I set foot in a small congregation of Christians whose nominal affiliation with (reputed) sectarian purists turned out to be no predictor of the warm welcome they uniformly showed to visitors from the “other side” of the theological divide.

I broke bread with them after an introductory conversation that took approximately thirty seconds, just long enough to discover what I thought of Jesus Christ. I think very well of him indeed. That was sufficient cause for a hearty introduction, several good conversations and multiple invitations home for a bite of lunch.

Good for them, I say.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Mismeetings of the Christian Church

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Virtual Fellowship

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

A few days ago, I watched a popular YouTube video one of our readers passed on. It was intended as a spoof of lazy, millennial, hipster Christians who have figured out how to avoid the inevitable complications and commitments of church life by going to “virtual church”. By themselves. From bed. Provided they can work up the energy.

Tom: It’s actually quite entertaining, and if you can watch it without cracking up, you have more self-control than I do. In fact, to really get the picture, you should probably watch it first, if you’re that sort of reader.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

They Ate and Drank with Him

“God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

Based on his personal experience, Peter could have finished this sentence any number of impressive ways. He could have said, “God made him appear to us ... who saw with our own eyes the rolled-back stone and the empty tomb,” or “... who witnessed him perform miracles,” or “... who were shown the marks of his crucifixion in his hands and his side,” or even “... who saw him taken bodily into heaven and heard the testimony of angels about it.”

Instead, he talks about sharing food with the risen Christ: “God made him appear to us who ate and drank with him.”

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Basic Math

Most people can do basic math.

Maybe not everybody can do linear algebra, probability or calculus, but even relatively low-IQ palace servants living 1000 years before the birth of Christ could hardly fail to notice that David’s latest wife, Bathsheba, had just delivered a baby well short of the average human gestation period of forty weeks.

Sure, David married Bathsheba the moment he could reasonably get away with it. But nobody was fooled. Their affair had to be the worst-kept secret in Jerusalem.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Believers in Orbit

Long-time readers here will be aware that I don’t always see eye to eye with Crawford Paul over at assemblyHUB. We’ve had one or two carefully-worded differences of opinion and a number of back-and-forths in the comments section there (and, to be fair, plenty of common ground too).

That said, I’ve got to concede his latest post makes some very good points.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (3)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

Your question about participating in the Lord’s Supper during your separation from Jill is a good one, especially as the weeks pass and your wife shows no signs of coming home or even of being willing to talk things through with you.

Still, perhaps the answer is not quite as complicated as you are making it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Christian Confession: An Elaborate Fabrication?

Is it really necessary for Christians to confess our sins in order to be forgiven them?

Peter Ditzel says no, that being forgiven for the sins we commit from time to time as believers does not depend on regular confession. That, he says, would be working for our forgiveness.

He is also not a fan of John MacArthur’s take on 1 John 1, which draws a distinction between judicial and parental forgiveness that Ditzel thinks is an “elaborate fabrication”. He sees the ongoing search for MacArthur’s “parental forgiveness” as a Protestant form of penance.

The judicial/parental distinction probably did not originate with MacArthur. I’ve been hearing it my whole life. It is a very common explanation of what the apostle John has to say about forgiveness.

But is it correct?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Let’s Get Together

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mismeetings of the Christian Church

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: With One Accord

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: You and I were talking last week, Immanuel Can, about this recent exchange of ideas I had with Crawford Paul at assemblyHUB — civilly, of course — on the subject of worship, specifically what we refer to as the “Lord’s Supper”, that ended with Crawford pointing out that “The topic is much bigger than this article”.

I couldn’t agree more, so I’ve written here and here about it. But I’d really like to explore the subject a little more with you. What appears to be eating Crawford and others is that the traditions they have grown up with about corporate worship appear to be just that — largely traditional, rather than scriptural.

This is a subject I know you love, so I wouldn’t want to leave you out. Specifically, I’m interested in exploring our corporate freedom in worship, but not divorcing that from the issue of our corporate responsibilities.

Immanuel Can: Right. Count me in. Where would you like to start?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Here Comes the Baggage

Yesterday I briefly noted some of the different approaches taken within Christendom to remembering the Lord Jesus. If you haven’t read that post first, this one will probably make less sense than it might otherwise.

The New Testament does not lay down many hard and fast rules about the mechanics of worship, only that we are to “remember” our Lord in the sharing of the bread and the cup and to examine ourselves prior to doing so. Arguably this is the most important part of the Christian life. One can be as active in church as humanly possible, as diligent and and hard-working as anyone, and even passionate about meeting with the people of God.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Throwing Money

My brother once commented (rather perceptively) that I try to solve every problem I encounter by throwing money at it.

He was not wrong. And I’m not the only one.

An elder at one of the local churches in my neighbourhood invited me over for dinner a few weeks ago, and we spent a very enjoyable evening together discussing nearly everything under the sun. One of the subjects he brought up was the regular compensation of pastors.

To his satisfaction, I did the expected double-take.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Turn It Off

The other night I was out with Bernie and one of his neighbours, a man who works in the correctional system. Bernie has his own business to run. His neighbour had a co-worker in crisis. I had just come from work myself. We had a great time and some good, solid conversation, but in the course of a three hour dinner, every one of our cell phones was active between five and twenty times.

You have probably had similar experiences.

A new initiative in my department at work is migrating 90% of company communications to an intranet social media site patterned after Facebook. We are being discouraged from using email and encouraged to access the forum regularly from our phones when not on the job in order to keep abreast of developments and “share information more effectively”.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Whose I Am and Whom I Serve

How do you characterize your relationship with God?

When people ask you, what do you say? How do you describe it?

Anybody can make a list, even a long list, and many have done so. But if you were addressing unbelievers and had to distill the relationship down to one or two very primary, fundamental elements, which aspects would you choose?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Inside Scoop

Those in the news business are forever occupied with beating one another to a story. Old media or new, success is measured in the ability to get the inside scoop.

God, on the other hand, is not in the business of broadcasting his secrets. Communicating is something in which he takes great pleasure, but not something he does casually. His truth is for those who value it and understand its worth, not for those who dismiss or trivialize it.

The value of God’s word is one of its repeated themes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Do We Need More Church Meetings?

Christians love the church of Acts 2.

Now they’re not wrong about that. The church in Acts 2 is certainly lovable. It looks, at least potentially, like a solution for many of the world’s societal and culture-related ills. It looks like a community steeped in the teaching of Christ and demonstrating practically the various spiritual truths about which he told the world.

It looks, to nick the words of someone or other, like a foretaste of heaven.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Babel’s Antidote

Monsù Desiderio, The Tower of Babel
I’m thinking about human relationships, specifically the way we communicate.

I used to take great delight in my facility with language, a skill developed largely because my father read to us incessantly as children: Lewis, Tolkien and other writers consistently above our grade level. As a result, we paid little attention to grammar lessons in school; they were largely redundant. We didn’t need to know a word was a gerund or an adjective to use it aptly in a sentence or to spell it correctly. Such things were innate.

You know the old saw: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I figured language was the key to pretty much everything. If one were only logical enough, if one could only make a convincing argument, then everything was potentially within one’s grasp. You could manipulate, coax, coerce or persuade anyone to do just about anything you wanted.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Inbox: What’s this ‘Fellowship’ Thing?

In connection with this post Tertius writes:
“Not surprisingly, Tom, in light of what you have said so far, I started thinking whether or not there is a word in the Scriptures that describes this special kind of communication that Christians may have with each other. I believe there is. Doesn’t “fellowship” wrap it up neatly? That is, as long as we do not allow its Biblical strength to be diluted by the limited way unbelievers must understand the term, for Christian fellowship has to be experienced before it can be defined. In fact, I confess I find it difficult to define now though I think I can say I have “experiences” of it. But maybe I am looking at it too subjectively — what joy I get out of it. But isn’t that what happened on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32)? I’m scrambling and hoping you or others will help me to unscramble my thoughts.”
I don’t know of too many Christians today who use the word “fellowship” regularly unless they’re well past retirement. If younger Christians use it, they usually do so in that formulaic, contrived way often associated with terms you wouldn’t hear in the real world but have picked up in church and adopted without much real sense of what they mean.