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Chapter 16 - Christian Relationship
An example of Christian fellowship can be seen in the encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus before either was born.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. - Luke 1:43-44
There is a connection between Christians in the Holy Spirit. The more mature the Christian and the deeper his faith, the greater the response to others who are also led by the Holy Spirit. A man once traveling in Eastern Europe encountered at a railway station a small band playing a Christian hymn and a woman passing out tracts to the collected group listening to the band. When the woman came to the man to offer him a slip of paper with information about a Christian meeting, the man responded by showing her a New Testament he had in his pocket. The woman became enthusiastic in pointing to the information about the meeting. Neither person could speak a word of each others language, but both knew that they were brother and sister in Christ.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. - Ephesians 4:4-6
Worldly relationships are based on consumerism (seeking that which makes us feel good). By definition they are superficial and false. Christian relationships should be based on truth. This is usually unattractive and uncomfortable. The reason that Christians can have real and deep relationship is because that the love of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the growing desire to serve others creates a resonance with other Christians that supercedes discomfort.
Too often Christianity is known for its divisions, disputes, smugness, rules, and contempt for others. This is because so many that claim Christ resist growing in truth and love. This is made worse in the modern age because our prosperity disinclines us to trust in God and rather see in our own strength a more certain future.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. - Matthew 19:21-22
It is in the surrender of self (growth in love) that the path to deeper Christian relationship can be found. Like all relationships, it needs to be two sided. However, it begins with a decrease of self so that we can be more filled with the Holy Spirit and show the life of Christ in us.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. - Luke 9:23
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. - 2 Corinthians 5:15
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. - 1 John 2:10
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. - 1 John 1:7
Many of the bible verses that describe Christian fellowship sound like empty platitudes and foreign to our ears because we have not grown in faith sufficiently to have experienced their truth. This is often because we have come to see the Christian life as binary (we are either a Christian or not). Our churches often perpetuate this view as if once a person has completed the requirements (baptism, special prayer, sacraments, confession, etc) he has achieved the status of Christian, and that there is nothing left to do. Sometimes a presentation of 'extra credit' Christianity is given that is attributed to special 'saints'.
In reality, there is so much more to the Christian life that involves growing in truth and love such that the biblical description of fellowship is not some distant ideal, but an everyday reality. Organizational church systems are not able to foster relational growth as even well intentioned classroom instruction falls short. Frequently the scripted events, programs, and activities of organizational church systems actually hinder the individual relationships of which Christian fellowship is to be built.
It falls to each Christian to take responsibility to seek out instruction from those older and wiser Christians who have these deeper relationships and learn from them how to live the deeper Christian life that is the basis for real and deep Christian fellowship. It also falls the the Christian to seek out those other Christians to whom he can minister and serve.
Information about Christianity and the Christian life.
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