Well, what is on my mind today is this. I started to attend a Heart Rehab prgramme yesterday, after my recent heart attack. It was a very postive and helpful experience, I am glad to say! It set me thinking as I was praying this morning. I think I discovered something yesterday, or re-discoverd it at least, namely some of the ingredients of fellowship that maybe we forget in the church. Of course our fellowship as Christians is “in Christ”, but fellowship as a positive living experience among believers needs more than a shared belief, more than a doctrinal basis, essential though the truth of Christ is. What did I find in the fellowship of Heart Rehab?
….it was a safe place to be vulnerable. People spoke openly about physical, mental and emotional struggles. Such confessions were received with friendliness and warmth.
…there was an immensely all pervasive atmosphere of thanksgiving and gratefulness. Each participant was very vocal in their thankfulness for those running the programme. They were also very appreciative of one another and expressed in feedback that one to one conversations over the weeks had been some of the deepest they had experienced in their lives: there had been a sharing of thoughts/fears/outlook that had never been shared before with anyone.
…there was a lack of competitiveness. No one was seen as a rival. There was mutual encouragement to do the best we could do and keep that as a goal.
…warm encouragement was given to the newest member of the group – ME – both by those leading and the other participants. They encouraged me not to be afraid of this new experience, spoke about what they felt at the start etc.
…there was a cheerful expectation of meeting one another again. People enjoyed one another’s company and it showed.
There is nothing particularly spiritual about the word for “fellowship” in the bible, Koinonia, though I remember back in the 70’s and 80’s in Charismatic circles, it was a word often spoken out loud with a sense of mystery approaching awe. Of course in Christ there is something distinct about Christian fellowship, but nonetheless maybe we need to learn from other settings where fellowship is truly evident and enjoyed.
Just because as believers we have something that makes the fellowship we share unique does not mean we have found or embraced the essentials which make fellowship happen.