**Rambling, unorganized thoughts** In The Fellowship of the Ring, 9 individuals joined together to see a ring destroyed, evil overcome, and Middle-earth saved. This group worked together, shared burdens, laid down their lives for one another and helped each other persevere as they sought the salvation of their world. When these 9 committed themselves together for the cause, Elrond said, “You shall be the fellowship of the ring.” This is a beautiful picture of what the church's fellowship should be.
We tend to see fellowship as something to do. It has become the occasional activity of the church, punctuating the weeks or months of our lives. But the biblical picture of fellowship is wrapped up in both our being and doing. It is a sharing of lives, sorrows, joys, suffering, and victories as we follow Christ together seeking the redemption of our world. Fellowship is what we are and is also the relationship/bond that we have with each other.
It should be obvious that fellowship cannot fit neatly into a program. Programs are too small to hold fellowship. Fellowsip cannot be fully experienced in a worship service, or even in a small group. These are good things, important things. The fellowship may gather at those places, but fellowship itself is bigger, and it is experienced in shared lives, not only such occassional moments. It's the union of the mission, the unity of those on mission.
I suppose I am thinking, dreaming, of what the church could, and should be again. All of us long for fellowship. It is not good for us to be alone, but this is not easily solved through a few formal meetings. Even if we offer a dozen programs aimed at providing a context for fellowship, that can only be the beginning, or a momentary experience of what should be the way we live the whole of our lives.
Is it possible to be the church that shares lives, not just moments, together? Or as Steve McCoy has said, has our American culture's value of individualism stripped communal goodness from even the life of the church? Can God's people be the counter-culture that places more value on the community than self? Is it possible to be what God intends? Can we all be one, and have all things in common? I am hopeful as some churches are moving beyond the routine of watching a show on Sundays, to sharing lives together, bound by love for God, one another, and neighbor. I believe it is beginning to happen at our church. This weekend's men's retreat was a taste of what I am thinking of, and has further prompted my thoughts, which are overflow from last Sunday's worship service (if you were there you know what I'm talking about).
What I am thinking is that biblical fellowship will result in us hanging out without agenda. We'll have times of teaching, instruction, ministry, etc. but we must also simply eat together, watch TV together, go out together. We must be friends. Isn't that fellowship?