God desires us to be in fellowship with Him and other believers. These are some verses I have read the past few days that helped me understand several concepts that John laid out to help me in seeking fellowship with the Lord and with other believers (and to deal with possible fears that might create a stumbling block to genuine fellowship):
“If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” -1 John 1: 6-7
*If we want fellowship with Him and other believers, which clearly this verse states the NECESSITY of, we must walk in the LIGHT.
“The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But, if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him. Who ever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” -1 John 2: 4-6
*If we claim to know HIM, to be a believer, we must walk as Jesus did, and we must obey His word…otherwise, we don’t really know Him and God’s love is not complete in us. (If I am having trouble loving on any particular day, I must confess my sins and recommit to following Jesus and obeying His word and ask God for HIS perfect love to help me love others.)
“Anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother, is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But, whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” -1 John 2: 9-11
* We must LOVE other believers, REGARDLESS, otherwise we will walk around in darkness (and we will stumble!), not in the LIGHT. This goes beyond forgiveness in my opinion, and requires God’s AGAPE love, and continual humility, continual forgiving and forgetting, and a non-judgmental heart. (If we choose to hate or be angry or not love, we WILL walk in darkness and God’s promises to not let our feet slip will not come to save us. It is scary to walk in darkness.)
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” -1 John 2: 15-17
* We must be in fellowship with other believers, but be in the world, not OF the world (as a sweet friend reminded me recently)…so we must not love the things of the world, even if other believers are struggling with that. We must love them and seek the Lord with them, but not fall into the same habits. We must also not seek to have friends who lead us away from the Lord. Friendship (God’s Word defines pretty well what a real friend is, and it is pretty specific as to the parameters of friendship) should not be an idle set above the Lord. As we seek the Lord wholeheartedly, setting the desire for true friends aside, the Lord will provide other believers who are also seeking the Lord wholeheartedly to come along side us to refine, encourage, and love us (and vice versa!). We must also be careful, though, to fear being led astray so much, that we don’t be friends with any other believers. God will protect us from being led astray, and if I find myself continually being led astray, then I know God doesn’t want me to be “friends” with that particular believer at that time. Remember, there are different levels of “friends.” See Proverbs for understanding on what these levels, parameters are for friendship. The Lord will be your guide.
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” -1 John 3:6
* After the Lord shows us what we must do, we cannot keep on sinning, otherwise we are not true believers in the Lord.
“I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you to not need anyone to teach you. But, his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” -1 John 2:26
* We must not fear being led astray (unless there is false teaching! If there is FALSE teaching, RUN! But, if it just isn’t preached perfectly (from our perspective), then we must not fear being led astray by the teaching or other believers, but have perseverance, and humble ourselves, trusting that God’s Word is perfect, even if it isn’t taught or presented that way (as I was reminded the other day).
*We must trust that the anointing of the Holy Spirit will guide us and teach us, as He always has, if there doesn’t seem to be anyone available to teach us at the moment. There will be mentors as God provides them. And when He doesn’t, His Spirit is enough. He is sufficient.
Psalm 121 1: “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
* God will help us! We must not fear being forsaken or being led astray.
Psalm 121: 3 “He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber.”
* As long as we are seeking His will and seeking to walk in the Light, He won’t let our foot slip! We must not fear being led astray as long as we are seeking to do the Lord’s will!
Psalm 121: 7: “The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life: the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.”
* He will protect us from anything that might hurt us when seeking fellowship–offenses, rejection, being led astray, being hurt, etc. He will not let us be crushed, no matter how often we have been hurt. We must not let ourselves close our hearts from connecting with other believers and having genuine fellowship in the Lord.
As I was reading all these verses, I realized that these passages really cover just about everything that we could struggle with in having fellowship with other believers! I love it! I know for me, I desire SO much to connect with other believers and to encourage them, help them, refine them, and also be encouraged, be refined, and be helped. I know what it is to be isolated…and in circumstances where that is God’s will for me (sometimes, God does lead us into the desert spiritually…for His own purposes that I cannot quite understand and certainly do not like!), God’s Spirit and guidance is enough. But, when I find that my walk with the Lord is suffering, and connecting with other believers is available, then I know the Lord’s will for me is to be in fellowship. No FEAR should EVER guide my heart. As opportunities for me to connect are becoming available, I am excited to CONNECT and be in FELLOWSHIP with other believers!!!