Fellowship Makes You Holy
That is... it makes you holy if it doesn't drive you to pull your hair out and run away screaming! Well, I'm partly kidding about that, or at least exaggerating. I am seeing that true, Biblical, Christian, God-honoring, Christ-pleasing, Spirit driven, loving fellowship is a work of grace that sanctifies. We are depraved individuals, and to be in fellowship and still love one another selflessly and with humility and a focus on our common Master is something that can only be explained as supernatural.
It really requires Christ-likeness, especially when being in a brand new church where the beginning and foundations are being laid. It is so, so easy to fall into competitiveness or glory-mongering or you name it. We feel almost as though we are climbing to the top of a new summit and need to jam our flag into the ground so that we can mark and claim our new territory for ourselves -but with the best of intentions, of course. Nothing could be more fleshly, though, and I thank God that He exposes those inclinations to me and gives me a hatred toward them. Otherwise, I cannot see how any church would really stay afloat. It would be full of competition, ego-battles, and contention at all times. People would be envious of not getting in this position or that, hating their brothers, asking all kinds of questions inside that will never be sufficiently answered to quench their own wrath, but will instead only enflame it all the more.
So, it is really good to be in this church with other sinners just like me. It is good that the Lord has been using this to sanctify me (and my wife, from what I see) already. I see it, and I thank God for it. I don't mean like I am some super-saint now. I mean very particularly this: He has used this and the love for His glory in this new church plant to expose and squeeze all manner of selfish motives, contentious desires, pride, hostility, and self-glorification. He has used this new thing in my life, and the life of my family, to create in me a keen awareness and hatred of these things in myself. It is powerful, and yes, supernatural.
It is easy to sit at home and recognize a sinful desire in yourself. You can read a little and pray and ponder spiritual matters in private. But when you are among others in an environment of fellowship and co-labor and worship toward Christ, when those desires would wish to blaze all the more, how can you look at your brother and not be humbled and shamed inside? It is the best kind of shame -shame for sin that leads us to see its cheapness and forsake it.
I am seeing that this is really what it is all about. This, I believe, is one of the main reasons why Christ created us as a people who are to love one another and fellowship and worship with one another, even though we are so prone to selfishness and evil in this life. This is a vehicle of conformity to the image of Christ, and it is a supernatural one. It breaks us, humbles us, and constantly brings us to refocus and come back to His feet.