Week of November 12
By Skip Heitzig
The biggest trees in the world are in northern California. They are a type of redwood called the sequoia. They are over 300 feet high, and some are 100 feet in circumference. Not only are they big, they're also old. Botanists tell us that some of these trees are over 4,000 years old! That means that at the time that Jesus Christ was teaching in Galilee, some of them were already 100 feet high. And they're still there today!
The reason they've remained there that long is that their roots go down deep into the earth, and they also intertwine around the roots of the other Sequoia trees. They are all interconnected. This makes them strong against the winds that blow in that area.
Likewise, well-connected believers in the body of Christ will stand up to the winds that blow through their lives, and the trials that come their way.
The early Christians were facing persecution (see Acts 4), and God's solution was to place them in a new family—the Church. Today, the world is becoming increasingly hostile, isolating, and alienating towards Christians. In such a world, Christian fellowship is the antidote. Today's culture is very mobile and technological, and that produces a lot of very lonely, isolated individuals. God's solution is still the same. "God sets the solitary in families" (Psalm 68:6). And in the Christian family there is growth, acceptance, forgiveness, love, and accountability.
In the Bible, fellowship is best seen in a phrase that's repeated 60 times, "one another." Here are a few: "Bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). "Be kindly affectionate to one another" (Romans 12:10). "Forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). These verses talk about encouraging, loving, and forgiving one another, and about teaching, counseling, and warning one another. Now, that is real Christian fellowship. That's real community.
Worldly institutions will not provide that, and computers will not provide that, even with the "social networking" sites like Facebook and MySpace. Fellowship isn't the kind of activity you can do alone. Fellowship can't be done by a podcast, or watching television, or a computer, as great as those things are. You can't download Fellowship 6.0 or Acceptance 3.2. It requires human beings--proximity, flesh and blood, life with life.
Fellowship is gathering together for a goal, and the goal is to encourage, to build up, and to stimulate to love, good works and spiritual growth. It's spiritual people helping other spiritual people solve their problems with God's resources. Fellowship is being interconnected with other believers. If you're not, I hope you'll start today.
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