“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” ~Psalm 133:1
We should never take for granted the great blessing we enjoy to be disciples of Jesus living with and among other disciples of Jesus. Most Christians know nothing first hand about that experience. They live in isolation with family members who do not follow our Christ or in communities where the Son of God is not recognized, or worse, where followers of Jesus are persecuted for their beliefs and practices.
The physical presence of other Christians is a source of great joy and strength to the believer. The imprisoned apostle Paul calls Timothy to come to him in the last days of his life. He remembers Timothy’s tears when they departed and longs to see his beloved son in the faith “that I may be filled with joy.” Remembering the saints in Thessalonica, Paul writes, “night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again.” John knows his joy will not be full until he can come to his own people and speak face to face with them instead of writing to them with ink “so that our joy may be complete.”
At times in their lives these great men of God did not have the fellowship with other believers that we enjoy daily, sometimes hourly. They longed for it. They relished it. They looked forward to it. And they savored it with great delight. Fellowship was everything. It’s what got them through.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this about Christian fellowship in 1934 in his classic work on the community of faith, Life Together:
“What is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day. It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us. Therefore, let him who has the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
We live together in and through Christ Jesus. The fellowship we share together is only in and through our Lord and Savior. Christian friendships should be treasured, never assumed. Time together should be cherished, never avoided. Opportunities to be together should be seized, never scorned.
“About brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” ~1 Thessalonians 4:9-10