Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. — Ecclesiastes 4: 12
Our faith is preserved and strengthened in fellowship.
The book of Ecclesiastes contains an abundance of maxims. Those who align their lives by these words of wisdom can succeed in life. Our Bible text refers to the experience that there is strength in numbers. For example, if there is a danger, it is good not to be alone, because several people together stand a better chance of dealing with the danger and perhaps even overcoming it.
Life in fellowship
Human beings are designed to live in fellowship. This is already brought to expression in the account of the creation: “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2: 18). This passage refers first and foremost to fellowship between man and woman, however, it also allows us to derive the necessity of living in a community in general. Almost every person wants to have friends or acquaintances.
It is painful to realize one is alone and unable to find anyone else with whom to share life. Nevertheless, there are also people who, for the most part, keep to themselves because they have been disappointed by others or did not feel accepted by them.
If we know such people, let us treat them with understanding. Let us give them our attention and take a genuine interest in them. In this manner we can signal to them that fellowship is possible after all.
The words of Ecclesiastes not only refer to our natural lives, but can also be applied to our life of faith.
Faith in fellowship
The Christian faith is also designed for fellowship. We not only read that Jesus gathered disciples around Him, but also that He celebrated with others, inclined Himself to them in their needs, and spoke to them. Concerning the members of the early congregation in Jerusalem, we read that they continued together daily with one accord (Acts 2: 46). As Christians, we need fellowship, and without it we cannot reach the goal of our faith. Let us therefore always foster the desire to be together and
- hear the word and put it into practice,
- accept the forgiveness of sins and also be prepared to forgive,
- celebrate Holy Communion because it is a meal of fellowship with Christ and with one another
We also need to stick together in the congregation because
- We need the prayers of others.
- We can thereby support one another in faith.
- We can better defend ourselves against attacks from outside.
- We want to be loved by others and give love to others.
It is easier to withstand tests of faith when we are in fellowship. The more closely we are connected to others in faith, the stronger our own faith will become.
Fellowship with God
The foundation and template for human fellowship is the triune God. Already within Himself, God exists in fellowship, namely that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God also inclines Himself to human beings and grants them fellowship with Himself in word and sacrament.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on 17 July 2016 at Midrand Congregation.