Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
To me, this passage discusses some of the most important functions of fellowship. We need to help each other resist Satan and his temptations and we can do that easier if we are banded together and not alone. We need to hold each other accountable and be there to offer support if someone falls.
God knows that we need each other for accountability and encouragement. Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
But so many times we completely miss the boat on this one. Casting Crowns has a great song called Stained Glass Masquerade, that talks about some of the things we do. Here are some of the things that I have noticed:
1. Pride. This is one of the biggest things that gets in our way of truly following God’s will in our lives. God’s word tells us that He resists the proud. There is no place for pride in our walk with Him, and this is no exception. We don’t want to admit our faults, failures and shortcomings. We want to be seen as perfect mothers, wives, friends, career women, etc. Problems do not fit into that picture, so instead of allowing our church family to help us through it and share our burdens, we hide behind a smile and say everything is okay. We won’t risk allowing anyone else to see our struggles. We worry too much about what people might think or say and we rob ourselves of this fellowship and we also sacrifice our witness to others as well, because we are so busy trying to be seen as perfect that we aren’t there for others who are struggling with similar issues.
2. Selfishness. As Christians, we foster this attitude. We don’t want to hear about the struggles of others. If a brother or sister in Christ is struggling with a physical, spiritual, emotional, financial need, we just don’t want to hear about it. We either don’t want to hear about problems that might taint our happy little world, or we are so tied up in self–me, myself, my problems, etc. that we leave no room for compassion for others and their problems. We seem to forget that Paul encourages us to help one another and bear one another’s burdens: there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26. But, how often do we really do this? We are so involved with our own lives that we tend to overlook the struggles of others, or begrudge the successes.
3. Judgment. Another big barrier to fellowship is judgment. As Christians, we fear it from one another and we dish it out toward one another, almost gleefully. If a fellow Christian is struggling with a sin or temptation, it is our responsibility to not only hold them accountable, but also to lift them up through prayer, support, and encouragement. But, we seem to forget that God’s mercy and compassions are new every day (Lamentations 22-23), and while we shouldn’t use His mercy as permission to sin at will, it IS there for us. If we stumble, He is always waiting to catch us. But, so often we ignore this, and if some dark temptation or struggle is confessed, the “transgressor” is judged and blackballed, gossiped about and beaten down. So, instead of a loving community that says “we love you and we know that God wants better for you–let us help you through this with prayer and support.” We offer only judgment, thereby shutting off the support system that God created and leaving our brother or sister in Christ to face their struggles alone, even more vulnerable.
God’s word is pretty clear on the subject. As Christians, we need one another and we need to come together in honest fellowship. I only pray that we will work harder toward showing Christ’s love to one another.
Here is my layout about fellowship and one of my own personal barriers. I couldn’t really decide on a picture to use for this, but in flipping through I found this one. It is completely honest and unposed. No perfect positioning or expression. Not beautiful by any means, but it is honest. And that’s what I want to strive for more of in my life, just being open and vulnerable, without being afraid of rejection or hurt. Because I know that even through rejection and hurt, God will be there and he will see me through. But, by allowing myself and my actions to be governed by my insecurities, Satan wins b/c it robs me of the fellowship that we all need, and it takes away from my being there for others who need me as well.