"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another," Hebrews 1-:24-25
I've been part of an amazing small group over this past year, but as relationships deepen and God continues to work on this area of Trust in my life I'm realizing that the concept of fellowship has been cheapened a bit, at least in my experience, to just mean any social event. Really, fellowship is a deeper interaction, an "elbow-deep" relationship. That kind of relationship involves incredibly trust, faithfulness, vulnerability and real selfless love and it has been a difficult challenge for me.
Believe me, it is well worth it.
This post originally appeared in September, 2010 as Fellowship: Beyond Potlucks
"You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence." Psalm 90:8
"But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed." James 5:16
There is no place in the body of Christ (the collection of His followers) for sin. To be sure, it exists abundantly because we're all sinners, but wherever sin exists in our fellowship, His Spirit is blocked.
This is where a lot of confusion exists in regard to sin and grace. Obviously Christians are still sinners. It is so obvious, in fact, that those who are not Christians become absolutely incensed when they believe a Christian or group of Christians denies this fact.
Forgiveness allows us to become Christians while we are yet sinners, but grace compels us to not remain in our sin. But forgiveness and grace are only effective on sin when it is exposed or "in His light." This requires the most dreaded of words to Christians and nonchristians alike: "confession."
We Protestant Christians get a little touchy when it comes to confession, "why go through a priest when you can go directly to God? I don't need no priest to tell me I'm absolved!" Well maybe, but without the physical act of confession to another human, will you go to God? Will you be able to hear his voice when you're filled with pride or shame? Are we not to bear each others burdens?
There are no secrets with God (take the book back to Barnes & Noble and ask for your money back). A secret is simply something that remains in darkness and, as we read in 1 John, there is no darkness in Christ. This aversion, this fear of confessing our sins to one another blocks much of the healing that God promises for sin. We may be forgiven in truth but will we truly be able to receive that healing when our sin is still a secret?
Beyond healing, 1 John 1:7 also says that fellowship happens when we walk in the light, His light. I don't see how this is possible without confessing our sins to one another as it says in James 5.
If there is one thing that truly threatens the existence of Christ's church, I believe it is not secular humanism, it is not the theory of evolution, it is not gay marriage, neither is it even sin, it is an inability or outright refusal to confess our sins to one another. Hypocrisy and secret sin are the cancer of His church, a mass of darkness growing secretly deep within the body destroying it from the inside out.
It is not enough that we hang out together on sundays, that we have cookouts, that we have bible studies, thats we pray for our sicknesses, we must walk together in His light, confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other, bearing one another's burdens in Christ. Without this our fellowship is shallow, counterfeit even, and we create a fertile place for hypocrisy.
BUT, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our suns and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!