We are prone to shallow fellowship. Much like we don’t naturally drift toward obedience in the Lord, I don’t think we naturally drift toward deep fellowship with one another in the family of God.
What I’ve found is that, without intentionality, we’ll drift toward the surface. We’ll float toward subjects and exchanges that settle for the shallow, rather than pursue the deep.
The shallow isn’t bad, necessarily. Subjects like weather, jobs, kids, sports, and schedules aren’t bad at all. But they also are not intended to be where we stop. We must dig deeper and dive further.
The Good News of God’s grace calls us deeper as the family of God. It calls us to a depth of fellowship and relationship that reveals the depth at which the grace of God has and is changing us. And for the believer in Christ, the grace of God has changed our souls, hearts, and minds. In other words, it has and is transforming the core of who we are.
So how can we take steps toward deeper fellowship with one another in the family of God? Here are four ways. All of them have been stolen from the Bible.
Pray out loud together
Nothing has the potential to reveal our hearts or weave our souls together as the family of God, more than prayer.
In the context of a chapter about loving one another in the family of God, Romans 12:12 says, Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
In Acts 2, as the church begins, we see that they were devoted to prayer (verse 42).
When you gather with other believers, don’t skip over an opportunity to pray for and with them. Don’t settle for, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and then walk away. I’ve settled for that far too often. Let’s pause and pray right then and there.
Let us not underestimate both the greatness of our God and the privilege, joy, and incredible opportunity it is to pray for one another at His throne of grace.
Speak the truth in love to one another
Ephesians 4:15 says, But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.
Do you see that beautiful promise? One way we grow more into Christlikeness is when we speak the truth in love. Jesus didn’t avoid speaking the truth in love during His earthly ministry days. We should not either.
When is the last time you said to a fellow member of the Body of Christ things like, ‘I need you to help check the blind spots in life. Will you call me out, in love, when you see a character trait or habit that doesn’t reflect Christ.’
Galatians 6:1 says, Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.
Speak and restore, but in love and with a gentle spirit. That is the way of Jesus.
Confess sin to one another
Remember, believer in Christ, you and I have been saved by grace, not by works. Don’t forget that precious truth.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.
So the Christian life is not one where at conversion we repent and believe the Good News, confessing our sin, welcoming the forgiveness of Christ, and then spend the rest of our lives doing image management as if to hide our sin. Not at all.
We have been saved by grace, and we continue to be saved by grace. So let’s not pretend that we only struggled with sin before knowing Christ or early in our faith. And let’s not be prone to self-righteousness when someone confesses sin and reveals they are still in need of the grace of God (just as we are).
James 5:16 says, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
When was the last time you confessed sin to a fellow believer? When was the last time you asked them to pray for you in that area of your heart and life? We need one another to remind us of our new identity in Christ (Colossians 3:1-17).
Speak and write words that build up
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Don’t assume someone knows that they are appreciated, valued or loved. I don’t believe anyone has ever said, ‘Wow…I just feel so encouraged and built up. I think I’m good for a month or two.’
Where do you see the Lord at work in someone’s life? Where do you see someone growing into Christlikeness? Where do you see someone walking by faith, and not by sight? Where do you see someone walking in obedience and trust, even when it is hard?
Tell them. Call them up. Write them a note. Stop them, look them in the eyes, and encourage them with your words.
As you read those, you might be thinking any one of these phrases…
- That is outside my comfort zone.
- I’ve never done that before.
- That would be awkward.
Yep. Remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. The Christ following life is not one lived in our own strength or in our comfortable little spaces. There is greater joy to be found and deeper fellowship to be lived out, if we are willing to take the words of Scripture as God-breathed and intended for our good.
In my years, I’ve dug plenty of holes in the dirt. Setting deck or fence posts, preparing footings, planting trees or bushes, for example. None of those holes dug themselves. It required intentionally and time.
The same is true in our relationships in the family of God. Let’s dig deeper. It is worth it.
PS: If you read this blog post, only with the local church in mind, reread it in the context of your immediate household, as well. Don’t skip over living this out with those closest to you.