If Baptists know anything, they know fellowship, right?
All fellowship takes is few a covered dishes, some Styrofoam plates, and a table overflowing with desserts (don’t forget the banana pudding), right? Every good Baptist knows what it means when someone says, “keep your fork.” You’ve not really experienced fellowship until you’ve been told to “keep your fork.” At a good fellowship, you don’t have to ask, “Is that sweet tea?” Because that’s the only kind of tea there is. And what about a singin’? Now we’re talking. We’ve got food, we’ve got singin’, we’ve got fellowship, right?
I’ve often wondered how many Baptists have sat across the table from someone at a “fellowship,” never really taking the time to truly know about the person with whom they shared Ms. So-and-so’s fried chicken. They could eat together, they could sit in church together, but they never connected with each other in a real, Biblical, notion of fellowship.
Let me first of all say, it is a Biblical event to share a common meal. The book of Acts records that the early church made it a habit of “breaking bread together.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Baptists sharing a covered dish dinner, unless their fellowship ends when the deacon takes out the last bag of trash. Unfortunately, though, for countless people – indeed, even people sitting in church this Sunday morning – they worship at church, they serve at church, they may even eat at church, but they have fellowship with absolutely no one.
So, to revisit our dangerous question yet again, “If we started the church with nothing but the Bible, what would our fellowship look like?” While we would certainly share meals together, then our fellowship would be much deeper than even the deepest covered dish.
The New Testament is full of characteristics that detail the specifics of the relationships that we share. The New Testament expects that we would eat with one another, worship with one another, confess our sins to one another, bear one another’s burdens, love one another, pray for one another, pray with one another, forgive one another, outdo one another in showing honor, be in agreement with one another, not criticize one another, teach one another, greet one another (with a holy kiss), be kind and compassionate to one another, submit to one another, be honest to one another, encourage one another, give to one another, serve alongside one another, be hospitable to one another, and much more.
One thing that all of those specifics have in common is that they are shared between one another. That list is simply from a word search of “one another.” That doesn’t go any deeper than the basic expectations shared in the body of Christ. It looks like it is more than some good fried chicken.
So, in that simple list, how would you describe the depth of the fellowship that you know? Are you confessing sin to one another? When’s the last time you submitted to someone that wasn’t wearing a badge? Have you toted any burdens from someone else’s back lately?
Three weeks ago, I said this was a dangerous question. I wasn’t kidding! We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us!