What a Fellowship!
Faithful in Friendship
1 Corinthians 12:12, 25
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ… “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 and 25
The church is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, His mystical body. Christ is the head; we are the members of that wonderful body. God says He made us different and dependent upon one another so that there be no division among us.
How will this work in the church? Much like our own physical body….
The Function of the Body
A human body functions to serve the person who lives in it, manifesting that person to the world. Your body reveals the person who lives inside—you.
The church is to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ by the way we live. This world will know the Lord Jesus Christ through us—His body, the church.
The Formation of the Body
When we get saved, the Holy Spirit of God baptizes us into the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit have we all been baptized into one body…” (I Corinthians 12:13). That’s Spirit baptism. Water baptism is a symbol of that. When you get saved, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within you and places you into the body of Christ. He is in us and we are in Him. We are the body; Christ is the head.
The Fellowship of the Body
We are to be in fellowship because we
Moreover, as Paul said in verse 25: “That there should be no schism [division] in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another.”
Because we’re members one of another, there can be no arrogance, no envy. I shouldn’t envy your gift; you shouldn’t envy mine because the Bible says God put every member in the body as it pleased Him. None of us have anything that God didn’t give us. There should be no rivalry. When you prosper, I prosper. Your gain is our gain. The more God blesses you, the more I’m blessed because we are in it together.
There must be no self-sufficiency. No member of the body can say, “I don’t need you.” If your body begins to war against itself, you are tragically sick. In the church, we could call that cancer in the body of Christ.
Fellowship in the body of Christ must entail the “one-anothers” commanded in Scripture.
We are to care for one another.
…the members should have the same care one for another (I Corinthians 12:25).
Caring for one another is God’s plan.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
All the commandments had already been given in the Old Testament, but now Jesus comes along and says, “I’m going to give you a new commandment. You’re to love one another.” This was His last commandment before His arrest and crucifixion.
A cross or fish symbol on our car or lapel isn’t the way people are to know we’re His disciples. The badge we wear is the unseen badge of love.
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4: 20).
Again, Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples if ye have love one for another” (John 13:35). The Bible commands us to love. It’s not something we would do automatically, or He wouldn’t have to command us to do it.
Now, we were also told In the Old Testament to love, so what’s new about the “new commandment I give you, that you love one another”? We are to love as He loved; that is, with a new quality.
This love is not merely doing our neighbor no harm, but seeking opportunity to do him good, even when he doesn’t deserve it. That’s what Jesus did for you and me: “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Do you know what real love is? Not giving me what I deserve or even what I want. Love is giving me what I need. Love chooses to do good to the other person, regardless. That’s the way we care for one another.
We are to receive one another.
“Wherefore receive ye one another [there it is again], as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (Romans chapter 15:7).
How are we to love? As He loved. How are we to receive? As He received. This is one of the most needed commands in the Bible—that we make people feel loved and welcome when they come into the church.
What a mixture of backgrounds there were in the New Testament church! Many had been raw pagans. Some were rich; some had been slaves. Many had been divorced; some had had multiple marriages. Some were polygamists. There were Jews, barbarians and Greeks. There were rich and poor, educated and ignorant, young and old, mature and babes in Christ, and they were all part of the body of Christ. Paul said to Philemon concerning his runaway slave, Onesimus, “You receive him as if he were an apostle.”
We make everyone who wants to worship God feel welcome. We’re to receive one another.
We are to greet one another.
Three times Paul said to the church, “Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). “All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with a holy kiss” (1 Corinthians 16:20). “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12).
The Spirit is simply saying that there must be the demonstration of our love and receptivity. We are to greet one another.
People need to be loved and greeted personally, warmly, and impartially. We need to show warmth and love to every person who walks through the church doors. Not just, “You’re welcome to come and sit down,” but move toward them with a smile, a handshake, an embrace.
We are to submit to one another.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:20-21).
Submitting ourselves to one another is for all Christians. What is biblical submission? One person willingly and lovingly placing himself under another, so that God may be glorified. We’re in the body of Christ and we care for one another. Therefore, there are times when I must submit to you. We are crucified with Christ, and we need to learn how to yield to one another and submit one to another.
We are to forbear one another.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3). And notice the next phrase. “There is one body….”
Forbearance is graciously enduring and putting up with the displeasing, offensive, or sinful attitudes or actions of other people. Everybody in the church is not lovely. I am light years from perfection, and so are you. We need to understand that we’re in it together and forebear one another.
We are to confess to and pray for one another.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
We confess to one another so that we pray for one another so that we’re healed. Don’t criticize. Pray. The confession of a fault is not a call to criticism but a call to prayer.
The failure to confess to one another holds back revival, forgiveness, and healing. Real revival is not just getting the roof off. Real revival is getting the walls down. What does that mean? Getting the roof off is saying, “God forgive me. Here’s what I have done.” But when we go to one another, confess our faults, and pray for one another, that’s when the walls come down and real fellowship begins.
Many of us today need someone to pray for us, but we’re either so proud or don’t trust the person, we don’t confess our faults one to another. Begin to pray for one another. None of us is perfect. If there were less criticism in churches and more prayer, what a mighty healing there would be, physically and spiritually!
We are to forgive one another.
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
An unforgiving spirit has ruined so many churches. Has someone done you wrong? So what’s new? When you refuse to forgive, you destroy the bridge over which you yourself must travel, for Jesus said, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses against you, neither shall your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses [against Him]” (Matthew 6:15).
There is a legacy of forgiveness for every one of us, but it never becomes ours until we claim it by repentance and faith. Yet in the great loving heart of God, He died for every one of us. That’s the spirit we must have.
The church is the body of Christ. We’re to love and care for one another, receive one another, greet one another, submit to one another, forebear one another, confess one to another, forgive one another.
This is what true New Testament fellowship is. And when we begin to do this—really do it—your church or any church will become a little colony of heaven.
What a fellowship! Isn’t that what you want for your church? That’s what I want. So let’s make ourselves a committee of one to get it started.
To hear this message in its entirety with additional content, please tune to Love Worth Finding’s radio broadcast on Tuesday, August 22 and again on repeat broadcast Saturday-Sunday, August 26 and 27, or any time afterward at http://www.lwf.org/broadcasts
You may also want to order this CD to have in your own library or to share with a friend. Call us at 1-800-274-5683 and ask for message #1833, “Faithful in Friendship.”