Some Christians mistakenly call it fellowship when they receive multiplied kindnesses from others, but contribute nothing to the relationship. That is not fellowship. That is being on “religious welfare.” That's being "on the dole" in church.
Others think it is fellowship when they are the givers, always contributing the lion's share to the relationship, but receiving nothing in return. They are to be commended for their gracious generosity, for their longsuffering, for their perseverance. These are the "parents" of fellowship. They are "striking a match" that they hope will kindle the love of God in the other's heart. But let's be honest, one sided generosity is not true fellowship. It could be called "evangelism" or "compassion" or "mercy,” but it should not be called fellowship.
Fellowship is that blessed sharing, that sweet partnership of hearts and hearths in which each person strives to be always investing his treasures in the other person. It is one of the purest expressions of love.
The example of the blind man and the cripple is an old one, but so illustrative of Christian fellowship. I saw it in action at the nursing home not long ago. A dear old brother in the Lord who lost his sight when his bomber was hit by flack over Europe was pushing his crippled friend in a wheelchair around the nursing home. One man's feet and the other man's eyes were invested in a joint venture. They enjoyed their "fellowship" enormously. Isn't that what true fellowship is? My strengths combined with your weaknesses and your strengths combined with my weaknesses make for growth and progress in this pilgrimage we call life.
After all, if we strip away all the pious sounding words of men, what is a church but a lot of cripples helping each other along the way to Heaven? In essence, that's what true fellowship is. It is me and you each contributing something to our relationship. It means we are both too mature to be sponges. It means we are too wise to be welfare providers. Modern churches are full of "welfare" recipients, always sitting around, hoping for a hand out, but never contributing anything. These churches always have a few "welfare providers" who contribute almost everything, and do almost everything, and receive virtually nothing back from the "welfare recipients." Whatever they have in these churches, it should not be called fellowship.
Once I realized these simple facts about fellowship, I decided I would do two things. I would take myself by the scruff of the neck, give myself a good shaking and tell myself, "Don't be a welfare recipient! Do your part! Make sure you are contributing generously in every relationship." And I would stop pretending that those are "fellowshipping" who never contribute to the relationship. Maybe I should take them by the scruff of the neck and.... No, wait. Maybe I should try one more time to light a fire in their heart. Now, let's see, what was that kind deed a brother did for me this week?
Maybe I could pass it on...
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials