Fellowship is the Practical Outworking of our Union With Jesus Christ
Ephesians 5:28–32 — So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. As with many of the greatest truths and concepts of the Bible, the church in our times has managed to come to a very watered-down and inadequate view of "fellowship". Whenever Christians get together, it seems, it is a "time of fellowship". This is not usually when they come together to worship or to study the Bible, though, but when they relax and enjoy a meal together or perhaps watch a movie or a sporting event with others in the church. Is this what the Bible means when the word is used? Clearly, if fellowship is a means of grace (meaning that believers are built up in their faith, receiving a greater measure of the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives through it) then we need to understand exactly what it is. The Greek word that is often translated "fellowship" in our Bibles is "koinonia". It generally means to share with someone in something. But what is it that believers share in? What do all true believers down through the ages have in common? They have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation and have been irrevocably joined to Him. Whereas they were once outsiders, they are now said to be "in Christ". They "know" Him - having the closest and most intimate of relationships with Him. They are joined to Him as closely as the branches are to the Vine, as the parts of the body are joined to the Head, as the bride is joined to her Groom. Are we overstating things here? Look at our text. Paul is instructing husbands on the kind of love they should have for their wives. In doing so, he takes the love of Christ for His church and uses the illustration of the church as His body and the church as His bride. First he talks of the love we have for our own bodies - we feed them, look after them. Since husband and wife are no longer two but have become "one flesh", the duty of care for the body that the husband formerly only had for his own flesh he is now to extend to his wife, who is one flesh with him through the union of marriage. But the staggering thing here, which Paul calls a great mystery, is that Christ exercises this same care, this nourishing and cherishing, for His own body, the church, of which believers are members. Paul is saying that having partaken in our human flesh, Christ is so intimately joined to His bride, the church, that He has become one flesh with her. We are so closely joined to Christ that His life (keeping the Law perfectly) is reckoned as ours. Our sins are reckoned as His and paid for on the cross. His death to sin is our death to sin, His resurrection is our rising to new life in Him. His ascension to glory is ours, so we are now seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. His reign is our reign - we sit with Him on His throne! All this is understood as flowing from our union with Christ, or our participation, our sharing - our fellowship with Him. We need to understand our fellowship with one another in the light of this teaching, because

it flows inevitably from our fellowship with Jesus. We are joined to one another in this body, this family, this vine, and the fact that we are joined so intimately must and will find practical expression in our lives. Jesus is in us, and He is also in our brother and our sister. Our relationship with them must and will reflect this fact. This is what the Bible means by the fellowship of the saints. It is nothing less than the outworking in our lives of the fact that we are intimately and eternally joined to our common Savior, our Head, our Husband, and that He dwells in all of His brothers and sisters by the Holy Spirit. There are aspects to the relationship between believers that unbelievers in their closest friendships and family relationships never experience. This is fellowship. It is mysterious, it is mystical, but it is very, very real, and as we express in our lives this bond of union with one another in Jesus, we will grow in grace and know the presence of the Holy Spirit more and more fully. Hopefully after reading this, we can understand why watching the Super Bowl with other Christians cannot be fellowship. Anyone can do this with their friends - and many in the world do so. True fellowship is very special, very spiritual in its emphasis, focusing on and drawing from Jesus Christ in Whom we live and to Whom we are joined by faith. Let's make sure that when we are with other Christians, we don't settle for anything less than this and call it "fellowship"!


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