Friendship and Fellowship
A sense of belonging is a good thing to have. It is often missing in our modern world where nothing seems to stay the same for very long. Changes, many of them unwelcome, are happening all the time to the places we know and the people we love. Many of our island communities are in decline, with the neighbourliness which once characterised them, and sadly families are increasingly affected by divorce and division. We know of course that in the end death will dissolve all our earthly ties. Are there any bonds that will last?
Christians know that there are such bonds. The Bible reveals that God has a people in this world who are united to Him and destined to dwell with Him and with one another for all eternity. By Adam’s fall we were all made sinners, separating us from a holy God, our carnal minds being “enmity” against Him (Rom.8:7). We are under condemnation and liable to eternal punishment but in His love God has chosen some of our sinful race to eternal life and by His grace He has drawn them to Himself. Christians know and enjoy God: they have friendship and fellowship with Him.
All the blessings of salvation come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matt.11:19). Being the Son of God He became man and lived a perfect life which He gave up on the cross that He might pay the price for sin. By His sacrifice Christ has established a friendship between God and men which will endure forever. The wonder of the gospel is that though we have offended Him repeatedly and refused Him for so long the Lord is willing to be on good terms with us!
We perhaps see the Lord’s love most clearly with the likes of king Manasseh, Saul of Tarsus and the thief on the cross. Yet the love of Christ is the same to each one of His own: it needs to be for we are all lost sheep, unable to recover ourselves from the plight we are in and unwilling even to acknowledge it and the reason for it. But God commends His love toward us in that “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom.5:6). It is a love that joins us to the Saviour.
Even as believers we may go badly astray. Jesus said to His disciples, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15) but soon one denied Him and all deserted Him. However Christ in His love did not cast them off but went after them and restored them, as the good shepherd of the sheep. He says to each of His own, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb.13:5). Truly Jesus is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24) .
The friendship believers have with Christ leads to fellowship with Him and with each other (1John 1:3). We may be close to other Christians, sharing our burdens with them in the knowledge that they are sympathetic to us and will try to help. How much more should we confide in Jesus Christ, who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb.4:15) and is “able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb.2:18)!
Our fellowship with Christ flows from God’s gracious work in our hearts. We must use the means whereby we may have communion with this loving and generous Friend: in the Bible we hear His voice and in prayer He hears ours. May we value this privilege more and more until the day break and the shadows flee away and we see Jesus face to face!