The Fight for Fellowship

By Christine Prato-Coleman

 

1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord..”

When I consider that

  • GOD created us in His image,
  • He came and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ,
  • He died on a cross,
  • And then rose back to life so that we may share eternal life with Him forever,

it’s natural for me to believe that GOD desires to share in a personal, intimate relationship with us.

We are the family of God. Family is all about relationships and fellowship. 

An Unwelcome Intrusion

Each year, I take the opportunity to escape the winter for a couple of weeks to visit my sister and family in the Sunshine State – Florida.

When I'm there, the fellowship we share truly brings life to my spirit. Dinners out, family walks with my grandnephew, and outings to the beach feed my soul!

And, let's face it. There's just something about the Florida sun in the dead of winter that can't be beat.

This year, on a particularly sunny day when my sister had some work to attend to, I gathered my Bible, a beach chair, and ice water to sit in the grass to spend quality time in fellowship with the LORD.

As I geared up to write this blog on fellowship, I began praying over which scripture might best reflect the LORD’s heart. 

I had my Bible on my lap, my low beach chair sprawled to face the sun, and my phone open to a selection of thirty scriptures to consider. My heart was truly waiting to hear what GOD would reveal. 

I was sitting for about three minutes when I felt and heard a rustling of grass underneath my chair, which I casually looked down to observe. Much to my surprise, a black snake – three to four feet in length – slithered through my legs out from beneath me.

I leaped like a gazelle in an attempt to get out of harm's way. As I jumped, screamed, and slapped off the chilling invasion, I packed up my midday-outdoor sanctuary... but not before eyeballing where the intimidating viper zipped off to. 

What Prevents Us From Fellowship with God?

I struggled to shake off the intrusion which interrupted my time with GOD. I even wondered why He allowed such a thing, as I was so looking forward to time in His presence, reading, and gathering my findings. 

I continued my devotional time inside the lanai, which afforded me the security of a varmint-free study. But my posture was different and my mind continually returned to the rustling sound under my beach chair.

I had allowed the enemy to steal my peace and the precious time I would spend in GOD’s word.

What prevents us from fellowship with GOD? 

Is it a snake in the grass?

For me, that day, it was literally a snake in the grass. But I wasn’t the first victim of an unwanted disturbance by a snake. That tactic is as old as the garden! 

Adam and Eve were the first to relinquish an in-person relationship with GOD all because of a snake and we can read the account in Genesis 3. 

 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5 ESV

Separation? Division?

Exactly what was the intention of the serpent in the garden? 

Separation? Division? A slight twist of the LORD’s word by this master deceiver was all it took for the woman to disobey GOD’s instructions.

After Eve ate, she gave the fruit to her husband and their eyes were opened. Did the woman realize that the fellowship she and her husband shared with the LORD would forever change?

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Genesis 3:8-11 ESV

Adam blamed the woman GOD gave him and Eve blamed the serpent who deceived her. Indeed, they had eaten the forbidden fruit and the serpent knew that this one act would forever hinder the fellowship that the LORD shared with His children. In fact, even though this story goes back thousands of years, there's nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9).

The serpent is doing the same thing today.

Our Fellowship Is Powerful

It wasn’t until that afternoon in Florida that I realized the magnitude of the enemy’s hand in broken fellowship.

It took an impromptu, unwanted visitor to make me reflect on how distracted and dissuaded we have become as a nation over the last several years.

Being mandated to stay apart from one another was certainly something none of us had ever experienced, but the long lasting division that followed those directives was also impossible to forsee.

How many people do you no longer see eye-to-eye with? How many family members are no longer tolerable to sit with to discuss life? 

It’s as if the enemy used this set of circumstances to his advantage. Studies from Barna show that regular church attendance has dropped since the pandemic and pastors believe there will be a lasting impact on in-person worship.

Did we fall for a bite of the apple that would disband fellowship either for a time or possibly forever?

Why is our communing with GOD and one another such a threat to the enemy that he will go to great lengths to disrupt it? 

Our fellowship is powerful! And there is power in numbers! Fellowship with GOD and our fellowship with one another is what led to our our souls being filled with the Holy Spirit during Pentecost.

Pentecost is a great example of what can happen when believers gather together in praise and worship. It is a time that resulted in everyone being filled with the Holy Spirit. 

When the day of Pentecost had fully come, Peter quotes the prophet Joel in Acts 2:17, ‘“And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;”’

Is that the real fear of the enemy?

The Enemy's Last Ditch Effort to Derail Us

The fellowship of the believers as described in Acts is grounds for Satan to shake in his boots! And likely the reason to put a wedge between people and GOD.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-46 ESV

Further study into fellowship reveals the motivating reminder of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:23-25.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Is the day drawing near? Are we experiencing the enemy’s last ditch effort to derail us from eternal fellowship with GOD?

I pray each of us considers the fellowship we are called to with one another and with our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. We know the end of the story. The head of the serpent will be crushed by the heel of almighty GOD.

Hold Fast to His Promise

1 John 1:7 says, “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 cleanses us from all sin.”

Meet Christine

Christine_Headshot

Christine Prato-Coleman is an author, speaker, and student of the Word. She and her daughter, Desirée, authored the true story Just Believe: Every Summer Has a Story, a book about adventurous faith that includes a scripture-based tool for young women and mothers.

On a mission to serve the Kingdom of God, Christine strives to lead young people to Christ and empower mothers and daughters to deepen their relationships through faith, friendship, and fun. You can connect with her at @justbelievebook and follow her blog or purchase her book at www.justbelievebook.com.

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