Our duty as Christians is not to merely have friendships with each other but to dive deeper into the life of another through fellowship. We should make an effort to avoid shallow friendships that do nothing to grow the other in their faith. Can we really be a true friend if we neglect faith-filled fellowship?
Fellowship meets Friendship
Fellowship with our friends is more than meetings on a Sunday or bible study. It should be integrated into every encounter, including our Friday night dinners, Saturday brunches and match day Sundays. When we meet with our friends who profess the same faith, do we consciously discuss faith, spiritual journeys and Christ, or do we leave that to specific times on a specific day, like Sunday after church? We need to make a habit of praying together, encouraging one another, and sharing the Word in our friendship groups. The two need not be separate as they can be more fruitful when combined.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing nearHebrews 10:24-25
This verse refers to the meeting of believers to discuss things pertaining to the faith. However, the Scripture does not specifically refer to a certain type of gathering or a Sunday service. Fellowship does not have to take place in a church or church setting. We can decide to move our fellowship meetings or bible studies to sociable areas. Prayer and reading of the word can be done after a meal shared among believers as they did in Acts 2:42;
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.Acts 2:42
Christ at the Centre
Many of us desire close and intimate friendships as much as we desire fellowship with other believers. It would be a blessing to create scenarios to foster both types of relationships. Sadly, we may find ourselves surrounded by many acquaintances with few we can really call friends. Characteristics of a friend will differ between individuals and we usually seek a mutual understanding with another before creating a friendship. Thankfully, amongst believers, we have a commonality in Christ. This is a great foundation for developing deeper connections.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common;
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes; they received their food with glad and generous hearts”Acts 2:44 & 46
Here are a few helpful things we can do to create fellowship where genuine Christ-centred friendships can be born:
- Start with the people already in our life – there will be believers we already have fellowship with or friends we want to create a deeper connection with; start with them.
- Schedule an event – this could be a coffee morning, a prayer walk or a weekend bible study, choose one event and plan; better yet, we can invite a friend to a pre-existing event/organisation.
- Make it regular – the best way to continue to remain in communion with others is to ensure the meetings are regular enough to continuously build the relationship. We can try once a month to start and ensure we do not leave it too long.
- Enjoy the process – ultimately, the gathering of fellow believers should be joyful, full of gladness and leave our hearts encouraged, ready to declare the good news of Christ (Colossians 2:2).
Essentially, there needs to be a balance between ‘enjoyment’ and faith-based gatherings in our friendships. When we meet with our friends, instead of discussing the latest news, sporting event or pop culture reference, we can use the time to pray. Our usual times on facetime, zoom calls or over the phone can turn to a time of focused prayer, even for as little as 30 minutes. Equally, a nice outing to a restaurant can be extended to include moments of bible study, or exhortation. This should be done on occasion to maintain the seriousness of these types of gatherings. Nevertheless, whatever the event, we can ensure we have meaningful conversations whilst enjoying ourselves.
At the end of the day, we can choose to talk for hours on temporary topics, for momentary satisfaction, or we can commune in the presence of God together for a lasting impact. The choice is ours. The wise King Solomon in Proverbs says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Without question, the type of interactions we have will determine the nature of the friendships we keep.