The two articles below are from Don's book, Simplify Your Spiritual Life, which NavPress plans to release in July.
The word fellowship in the New Testament (as in Acts 2:42) is a translation of the Greek word koinonia. At its root koinonia describes two or more people in close association and often speaks of these people as sharing in something, such as a marriage or business. Christian koinonia exists between everyone who knows God through Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:3). Everyone united with Christ by faith is also united with everyone else united with Christ. The same Holy Spirit indwells all believers and gives each a common share in the body of Christ, the church. As the apostle Paul put it, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . and all have been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The presence of the Holy Spirit in each other enables Christian relationships to be enriched with a supernatural dimension and spiritual dynamic that unbelievers cannot experience. For example, the Lord Himself blesses us through the words of other Spirit-indwelled people in ways He seldom does through Spirit-less people. The easiest and most direct way to experience these blessings of koinonia is just to talk with another believer about the things of God. This includes anything related to knowing God, Christian living, understanding the Bible, and applying the Bible to particular issues such as work or family or culture, prayer, theology, church, and evangelism.
But as normal as such fellowship should be to those who know Christ, if we don't cultivate it, koinonia gets choked out of our conversations by the weeds of words about other things. Click HERE to
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Fellowship Face to Face
I sent and read dozens of emails today. In addition to the Internet contacts with people I had here in my own city and country, I heard from a pastor in Wales, exchanged several posts with a friend in Canada, and bought an old fountain pen from a woman in Germany through an online auction. What a great blessing to enjoy these things so easily. But as a result of the time involved at the computer, I haven't talked face to face with anyone all day. Why does it seem that the more I have and the faster I can accomplish things, the more distant I feel from people?
Because of the efficiency and convenience provided by technology, we chat and buy more and more through electronic means, but less and less in person. As long as we maintain meaningful face-to-face relationships, especially with fellow Christians, then our electronic relationships will remain in a good and healthy place. But if we interact with people primarily through glass or some sort of technological screensuch as a television or computer monitorwe shouldn't be surprised that our relationships begin to seem distant, shallow, or artificial.
Even from the low-tech times of the first century, the timeless words of the Bible speak directly to this contemporary problem.
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The Difference Between Socializing and Fellowship
Many Christians never seem to distinguish between socializing and fellowship. Think of two concentric circles. The larger circle is socializing, the inner one is fellowship. This shows how fellowship always takes place within the context of socializing, but also how we can have socializing without fellowship. Socializing is the larger circle because it involves sharing the common things of human, earthly life. All people can do this, whether or not they are Christians. But Christian fellowship, New Testament koinonia, involves the sharing of spiritual life.
Please notice that I am not arguing against socializing. It is a gift of God. It is part of being human. The church needs socializing and so does the individual Christian. But in practice the church has often accepted socializing as a substitute for fellowship, almost forfeiting our spiritual birthright as children of God for something far less valuable. The result is a weakening of both the church and the believer.
[Taken from page 150 of Don's book, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church. Read a chapter from this book.]