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True Fellowship
May 13, 2008
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia --

Fellowship is a word we often use and seldom understand. It is a relationship word. It describes a two way street. If we make it a one way street it becomes a dead end street. Fellowship really only exists between people who are each contributing something useful to the relationship. It must be so in order to be true fellowship.

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...

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