Community is a much-needed means of grace that is foreign to our culture. Through community (aka fellowship, sharing, mutual encouragement or mutual support), we grow in maturity, good deeds, compassion, patience, effectiveness and grace.
The Greek word for “fellowship” comes from a root that means “common or shared.” Fellowship means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person or receiving what he or she has. Give-and-take is essential to fellowship in the body of Christ.
In “Your Father Loves You,” James Packer views Christian fellowship as “two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God (1 John 1:3).”
According to Bible scholar William Hendriksen, Paul uses the word “brothers” more than 100 times in his writings, and the term generally describes “those who are united in a common bond of Christian fellowship” (such as in 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Colossians 1:2). Paul follows Christ’s teaching (Matthew 12:50 and Mark 3:35).
Authors Chad Walsh and Lee Strobel see Christian community reflected in the Trinity. In “God’s Outrageous Claims,” Strobel explains that humans are “created in the image of a God who has reveled for all of eternity in a mysterious form of interrelationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So this concept of community has its origin in the Godhead.”
Keith Porter is the senior pastor of Hillsdale (Mich.) FMC. Go to fmchr.ch/gracestudy for the church’s “Means of Grace Study” from which this article was adapted.
GROUP DISCUSSION: Why is fellowship sometimes considered one of Christianity’s most powerful concepts?  What does 1 John 1:7 tell us we will have “if we walk in the light”?