Unhealthy vs. Healthy Fellowship
In the past years, the question of fellowship has come up more and more. Perhaps because of the times we are in. It’s a topic heavy on my heart as I see many who are in unhealthy fellowships, as I once was. They looked good on the outside, but the subtleties of what they supported or didn’t took me on a path away from God by thinking I was on the right path when I wasn’t. For example these fellowships entailed; the Word wasn’t really the focus, my time in the Word wasn’t critical, cultivating personal intimacy with God wasn’t the center, dependency on teachers was accepted, trusting the spirit to teach wasn’t emphasized, a works mentality was honored, as long as I was in church I was headed in the right direction, and so on. They had major impacts to my spiritual health.
Now, we are all fallen. Look at who Jesus hung out with. Fallen people but they had a hunger for truth and listened and followed His Words. He is The Word. He was the authority. As in His communities, is the Word really first in ours? Now contrast that to the Pharisees who didn’t listen to His Word, but were quite religious, who followed the doctrines of men, and thought they knew better. It is about our hearts. It is about who is our authority, who we truly trust, who we truly follow – God or man.
Others have a tremendous influence on us and it’s critical especially these last days to examine the fellowships we are engaged in. Fellowship to me means the gathering of believers with the goal to encourage, exhort, pray, serve, tell of God’s good works and praise among other purposes. Healthy fellowship enriches our spirits, while unhealthy destructs.
The questions we all need to ask ourselves:
1. Are the fellowships we are engaged in healthy according to God’s Word?
2. Are they what GOD desires of us? Or are we following the crowd?
3. Have we taken time to deeply seek God’s will in this area?
Here are some verses on what kind of fellowships NOT to engage in:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
1 Timothy 6:5 “useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. “
In these last days, the false prophets, teachers, leaders, and messengers, will be where the majority of God’s people are – in the church system. There are a multitude of verses warning us about this unhealthy association with others as well as the vastness of deception and lies in the end days. God knew unhealthy fellowship would be extensive these days and warned us over and over because its influence is powerful. Let’s take heed to His warnings. Let’s understand our ability to be influenced by those around us.
Our guard from being in unhealthy fellowships is abiding in the Word in faith on a daily basis. Psalm 17:4 It’s our responsibility to examine our fellowship in the light of God’s Word like the verses above and act according to His instructions not our justifications. Justifications like; sure they (their church) are off on some things but overall I think they are doing good. By whose judgment, ours, the church’s, or God’s?
Lies are damaging, yet too often we excuse them. 2 Corinthians 11:4 The other day a fellow blogger mentioned in her blog, God’s Promises are Real, that Satan’s only weapon is lies. But what an effective tool that is! I think Christians start compromising the truth when they fear of appearing judgmental, pushing others away, being alone, or being rejected. At least these have been some of my reasons in the past. But it is for the sake of our spirits and others that we need to hold fast to the truth and expose lies with a motive of love when we see them.
Right now most of us, if not all, are living in some deceptions and lies because we live in a fallen world and its influence is strong over us. But as we abide in God’s Word and He reveals those lies to us what do we do? Continue to accept and support them? The Apostle Paul encountered all sorts of issues among believers. What did he do? He exhorted them and if they didn’t take heed to God’s Word, he responded as in 1 Corinithians 5. He didn’t hold back, justify or ignore. When it was necessary, he said certian people needed to go if they didn’t heed instruction. He told them to not compromise by letting damaging behaviors slide. And in some cases, he told them to leave unhealthy fellowships. He understood that one bad apple ruins the batch. He did this because He loved them.
True, healthy fellowship is a wonderful treasure. What does it look like? Different fellowships hold different purposes, but here are some of the characteristics I see in the Word:
- Informal gathering of 2 or more believers getting together being open, honest
- Each person is in the Word being taught by the Spirit and He is the source of truth not a human teacher
- What is spoken of is tested against the scriptures
- Drawing near to God and love as the goal – not entertainment, not increase in numbers
- Each actively uses their gifts
- More mature ones help others to learn from God and be dependent on God not man
- All parties are active, not passive
- Time to encourage and exhort as lead by the Spirit
- Opportunity to help others in need
- A place where it is okay to question beliefs of others and okay to disagree
- Where there are no man-made rules only the Word of God
- No dominations, but unity in the Spirit
- Intimacy to pray for one another
- Minister to each other’s deeper needs because you take time to know them
- Share God’s work in each others lives and praise God
Fellowship is a gift. God designed us to be connected to one another. But with this gift, as all gifts, we need to take heed to His instruction in this area so that we aren’t misled and the gift isn’t misused. It is a very influential area in our lives, whether good or bad. We each need to examine our fellowships in light of God’s Word and spend time seeking His will for where and who we fellowship with. Fellowship comes in many different forms. Let’s not limit Him or ignore His leading in this area. It is critical to our spiritual health.