Scripture: Psalm 133, John 20:1-31; Acts 8: 26-40
This was a total Holy Spirit thing that this chapter, this particular focus should follow Easter and land on the Day of Action -- our day of community service, a beautiful picture of fellowship.
McLaren begins by observing that the account of the resurrection differs slightly between the gospel accounts. Actually, when looking for witnesses, if police found that several people had exactly the same account of something witnessed, they would be less likely to believe them. It is the slight differences in story between the evangelists which brings out the veracity of what they say all the more. These stories were kept orally first before being written, however, do not mistake this as the modern game of “telephone.” For in the times of Jesus, storytelling was an art form that demanded accuracy.
Focusing on John’s account, in John 20, McLaren tells how the disciples might have connected the events with Jesus in the upper room, following the resurrection with other events in Scripture. He calls the whole resurrection event an “uprising” -- as in a movement that began at this point in time. And it is such an event. In those upper room encounters with the risen Christ the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and their commission to take this gospel out to others. Beginning that night the disciples realized they had entered a movement, an experience of fellowship unlike previously experienced-- one that was “not based on status, achievement, or gender, but instead is based on a deep belief that everyone matters, everyone is welcome, and everyone is loved, no conditions, no exceptions… a community where anyone who wants to be part of us will be welcome. Jesus showed us his scars, so we don’t have to hide ours.” (175). This fellowship, this new community was based around the real, living person of Jesus-- it was in him they believed, and He created this unity they experienced.
Share a story about an experience of true fellowship.
How do you respond to the idea that Christian fellowship is for scarred and scared people-- without regard to gender, status or achievement?
In my life, I have had many experiences with what I would call true fellowship. Many of you know I have been part of an accountability group with the same guys since 1997. Another dear friend, Mike, whom I met in 2002 has been an extension of this group, another brother with whom I have deep fellowship and honesty. Some of these accountability group times, and some of the times Mike and I have shared talking across the nation by phone rank highest to me in my experience of fellowship. There have been times when the presence of God is so thick in those small group times and those phone conversations, that the presence of Jesus is tangible. For years the guys and I in our accountability times began with prayer and worship and a time of listening for God to bring words for the members of the group before that person shared. What we heard which spoke beneath the surface of what a brother planned to share, and often proved powerful. Sometimes Mike has called at just the right moment to help upright my thinking and my heart. These conversations are gifts. For me fellowship means a deep communion with others. So, it can happen anywhere as we are together with others in the Body of Christ.
How about you? When have you experienced fellowship?