Christians today have the odds stacked against them. It is becoming less and less popular to be a Christian. In the polarizing state the country is in, the values and ideas set forth in the Bible for Christians are being deemed old fashioned and regressive more and more often. This makes it all the more important for Christians to invest in fellowship.
I, like many people, learned the importance of fellowship the hard way. During my senior summer before I arrived at Oklahoma Christian University one of my closest friends was shot and killed. When this happened, my entire world turned upside down. I vividly remember speaking at his memorial in front of his family and friends as if it was yesterday. As I stood in front of everyone and quoted a line of scripture I could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. My guilt came from the fact that as I was speaking this scripture to everyone I realized I did not believe it. This moment has stuck with me because it was the moment I chose to step away from God.
Once I got to Oklahoma Christian the turmoil I felt about my faith became too much. I felt alone. I never spoke to anyone about where I was in my faith and I paid the price for it. I stopped praying, I stopped reading the Bible and I stopped going to church. My connection to God was virtually non-existent. At the time I thought the entire experience was unique to me and I was only one who had ever felt this way.
I carried this weight with me until I came into my junior year. I still held a lot of hate at God for the situation. I wasn’t able to shake this feeling until I sat down and talked with one of my friends. We sat on his front porch and talked for hours about all the questions we had for God. During our conversation I realized the reason I had been wrestling with all of my questions for so long became clear: I had no fellowship. As a result, I did not give anyone the chance to help me with what I was dealing with or have the chance to help anyone with their problems.
Since then two verses about fellowship have stuck out at me. The first is 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” The second, Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” In my experience these two verses encapsulate the importance of having fellowship as a Christian.
As Christians we are called to stay strong in times of hardship, and this can be a challenge for the strongest of Christians. It becomes immensely more difficult if you are undertaking hardships alone. Everyone has questions and everyone has their doubts, but when you separate yourself from the Christian body those questions and doubts can compound and become overbearing. One of the beauties of Christianity is it teaches us about fellowship to help us handle these problems.
The Bible emphasizes fellowship and the Christian community because of its vitality to the religion. When questions and doubts start pouring in they are not something to handle alone. There is another Christian asking the same questions, having the same doubts, dealing with the same problems and needing the same things you might need. When we as Christians realize this and try to build the strength of our fellowships, less of our brothers and sisters have to struggle alone. As Christians shouldn’t that be the goal?