Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I randomly thought of The Fellowship of the Ring the other morning when I heard the word "fellowship". The ring, standing for evil, for temptation, brought together a company which together sought to destroy and defeat its dark power. Fellowship isn't a passive thing - it has to constantly be engaged in building unity and carrying one another's burdens.

Sometimes I find true fellowship difficult. I think it has a lot to do with today's society, and a lot to do with sin. Being social in our culture often means constantly checking our phone for texts or spending hours on facebook. For some, it means going to parties, or maybe in the church it means going to every Bible study and event you possibly can. Sometimes the most "social" people are the hardest to really know. I know for me, pride and false assumptions and expectations can become a barrier to true fellowship.

I think we all long for community, real community. And the tough thing about this is that seeking community and fellowship can sometimes become an idol that keeps us from seeking the truth and purity of God and His word. But I don't think it has to be that way. (There I go again, using "and" and "but" to begin sentences.)

What is it that makes the fellowship found in Tolkein so important and memorable? I should think it is the fact that they are brought together for a common cause - to fight and destroy the power of evil, even the evil that is within themselves.Yet what about the times when we feel alone, when we feel frustrated by a "lack" of fellowship?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Love community and you will kill it. Love your brother and you will build it." That is such a profound reality, because it is only in obedience to the command of Christ and love for our brothers and sisters that true spiritual community exists. Once again, I'm reminded of the definition of love - sacrificing, unconditional, and not self-seeking. “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”(Bonhoeffer, Life Together) It is our common redemption in Christ that gives us fellowship. We are not to pursue an ideal or a vision, but rather offer ourselves to God in service and compassion, even to the least of these. 

We are each "ring bearers" of sorts, constantly battling our flesh. But even when we feel alone, we are not alone. We fight a battle, "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph 6:12)

You are no longer foreigners and strangers, 
but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 
with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 
In him the whole building is joined together 
and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling 
in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22)

Now that, my friends, is an extraordinary promise! He has given us a fellowship with Him and with the redeemed that can never be taken away. Though our relationships with one another will never be perfect, and will never "fulfill our needs", He himself will supply our needs as we "follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Eph 5:1-2) I want to truly learn this, as I pray for a greater fellowship with my brothers and sisters, and a more abandoned obedience to Christ.