Thursday, May 01, 2008
Relationship - Fellowship
Again from the on-line devotional based on the teachings of Ray Stedman.
1 John 1:1-4 NLT
1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.
3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
Why is it that some Christians seem to be transformed by contact with Jesus Christ, but others are not? Some Christians, even Christians of long standing, still seem to be very much conformed to the world around them, even deformed in their views and outlooks. Yet all of them stoutly assert that they are Christians, that they too have been born again by faith in Jesus Christ. It is not strange that the world asks, "What is wrong? Why is this condition true?" The secret, John says, is fellowship.
We must understand the difference between relationship and fellowship. Relationship is becoming a member of the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ. It is established by asking Him to come into your life and heart. John makes that clear at the end of this letter. "He who has the Son has life [that is relationship]; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life [he does not have a relationship]" (1 John 5:12). The Christian life starts right there with this matter of relationship. Relationship is accepting Christ; fellowship is experiencing Him. You can never have fellowship until you have established relationship, but you can certainly have relationship without fellowship. Relationship puts us into the family of God, but fellowship permits the life of that family to shine through us. That is what marks the difference between Christians. Fellowship is the key to vital Christianity. That is why this letter, which calls us back to fundamental issues, focuses first on that. The important question is, as a Christian, are you enjoying fellowship with the Father and with His Son?
Father, teach me more of the richness and the glory of this warmth of fellowship with Christ, where everything that I am is made available to Him and I am experiencing all the wonderful joy of everything that He has made available to me.