Friendship vs. Fellowship

Do you have to be friends with the people at your church? If you join a Bible study or a small group, do you have to hang out with those people outside of the group? There aren’t many things that have caused more confusion and more misunderstanding and done more damage to the local church than the confusion between friendship and fellowship. So let me set the record straight. Do you have to friends with people at your church? With your pastor? With the people in your small group? The answer, the Bible gives is, no. The dictionary definition of a friend is someone who is a preferred companion. Someone that you prefer being with and someone that prefers you back. We can’t force that by sticking people in a living room or in a church. Friendship has to be self-selected. So, no, you won’t have coffee with everyone or dinner with everyone. You won’t take trips or vacations with every single Christian that you come into contact with. And yet there is something that we have in the church that’s for everyone and that might even be better than friendship. What the Bible calls real Christian fellowship. I think about the Apostle Paul’s words in Galations, chapter 6. He says, Can you imagine if you went to a church and you weren’t the most popular kid in school but people did good to you? And instead of just being in little circles of friends, there was actual fellowship? People actually one-anothered those one-another passages in the Bible? They cared about one another? And they listened to one another? And they were willing to bear the burdens of one another? Can you imagine how magnetic and how attractive the local church would be if it didn’t matter how socially awkward you were? How popular or not? When you walked through those doors, you were genuinely loved? Because we all shared something bigger than a sense of humor or mutual interest we shared? Jesus. I hope you have great friendships. But I hope when you walk through the doors of a church, you’d be willing to, you’d be willing to push “pause” on those friendships so you could invest in brothers and sisters in the faith. So that church could be a sanctuary so we could actually have Christian fellowship.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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