Fellowship With the Father and the Son

Today the term "fellowship" is often used in completely secular settings, such as meetings of organizations like the Rotary Club, to express the camaraderie and common purpose of the members. In the Scriptures, the word "fellowship" is used with a much higher purpose than is ever possible in a secular application. The Greek word koinonia, from which our English word fellowship is translated, comes from a root word which connotes things in common.

Were it not for the fact that the Scriptures use the term fellowship in reference to our relationship to the Father and the Son, we might think it presumptuous to suppose that we could have such a common bond with our God to be considered as His fellows. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:3-7)

How is it possible that we who are but dust and ashes, by nature children of wrath, erring vessels of earthy clay, could ever have fellowship with the High and Holy One who inhabits eternity? Even in human terms, it is difficult to imagine a great and mighty king having fellowship with one of the lowliest peasants of his realm. Much more unfathomable is the Creator of heaven and earth including in His fellowship fallen, mortal, sinful man. As the prophet Habakkuk exclaimed about God, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. (Habakkuk 1:13)

God's original purpose with His creation was to bring into being creatures with whom He could have fellowship. That fellowship was not to be forced and involuntary but a matter of choice by both parties, in order that it might give pleasure. There are things that are too high for us to look into and grasp. We cannot know why our Eternal Creator, throughout the expanses of the vastness of the Universe, had a need for companionship that caused Him to act to bring man into existence. What we do know is that our Creator designed man with freewill so that he could choose to draw nigh to His Creator or not. We know that Adam exercised his freewill to disobey and in this first sin marred the original fellowship that existed between God and man. In His love for the world He had created, God provided a plan for the restoration of fellowship, not to the state that Adam had before he sinned, but to a permanent state in which the bond between God and man was forged forever and would never again be susceptible to rupture through sin.

This plan for the restoration of fellowship involves a process which is revealed in the Scriptures. At the centre of the process there is one special man that God brought into being through the intervention of His Spirit. The woman God chose to bear His Son describes herself as of "low estate" and "low degree" - a poor, peasant woman. This was a man in whom God took delight, as His only beloved son, and from whom He received flawless obedience. This was a man who provided God with the kind of fellowship that He was seeking, in which Adam failed through sin. This was a man that made possible the restoration of fellowship with God for all the other sons of Adam who come unto God by him. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9) God designed the restoration process to include two elements - an alignment of the relationship and an alignment of the heart. The relationship is aligned through baptism, when we are brought nigh to God by the precious blood of Christ. The alignment of the heart is a lifelong task.

Even in human relationships, fellowship depends upon effective communication between the parties. (The origin of the word, communication, in English is from the Latin word communis, which is roughly equivalent to the Greek word from which fellowship is translated). Many human relationships - the relationship between a husband and his wife, between an employer and his employee, between partners in business, between a teacher and his student - suffer when there is inadequate or incomplete communication. Where communication is inadequate, there may be hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and expectations from one that are not met by the other. On the other hand, where communication is effective, the common and shared purpose of the parties is apt to be much stronger.

Communication is also essential to the fellowship that exists between God and man. God originated the communication, in revealing His plan, through His word. That Word was made flesh -- God has also spoken unto us by His Son. For those of us who desire to respond to God's offer to come into His eternal fellowship, it is necessary that His communication to us be at the forefront of our lives. It is only through this source that we can share things in common with Him - such as His abhorrence of sin and His love of Israel - which are completely contrary to the vast media of communication originated by man. In the vernacular of this world, there is a common expression, when two individual's goals are aligned, to refer to them as being "on the same page." In a literal sense, we must be on the same page as our Creator, by using the pages of His revelation as our source of instruction.

From the example of His Son we learn that God desires communication from us. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12) And on another occasion, it is recorded, And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35). God's Son has opened the way by which we might approach boldly unto the throne of God's grace and commune with our Father. Our communication with our Father is essential as the means by which we confess our sins and seek forgiveness. If it is truly our desire to spend eternity in the company of the Father and the Son, must we not seek that communion now, in prayer?

The pattern for our fellowship with one another is derived from the pattern of God's graciousness in seeking to include us in His eternal fellowship. His inclusion is not unconditional - it depends on our response. The apostle Paul appeals to us: Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (Romans 12:16) The willingness to share the precious things of God with those whom we may perceive to be of lower estate than ourselves - whose cars may be several model years older, whose houses less well appointed with this world's good - is practicing in a small scale the greatness of God's condescension toward us. As well as an application to the material things of this world, it is necessary to apply the principle towards those whose understanding of the divine purpose may be less well formed than our own. It is not well for us to despise the brother or sister who is a babe in the truth and not yet developed to digest the "strong meat." Their low estate may have enabled them to align their heart more fully with God's ways than we have done ourselves.

Many things in this life might fail us. Many human relationships might be strained. We may lose our job. Sadly, there are cases where spouses in the Lord have forsaken the one to whom they first vowed their fidelity. We might be disappointed by the ecclesia we attend. We may perceive it to be too this or too that; we may not find it always conforms to the fullness of Christ as it ought. There may be some lifelong brothers and sisters who forsake the ecclesia. (2 Timothy 4:10) There is one thing that can never fail us - the fellowship which we have with the Father and the Son. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13) As a statement of a true and dependable friendship, it is sometimes said, "He (or she) is always there for me." By this we mean that our friend is never too busy, too tired, too engaged with other pursuits, to stop and give us time and attention when we need it. So it is with our great and merciful High Priest at the Father's right hand. For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:5,6) The one thing in this life that never fails is the fellowship of the Father and the Son.

May it be our lot to enter into the fullness of that fellowship as expressed by the Lord in his prayer to the Father: Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:24-26)

James Farrar
Grimsby, ON