“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,”
Fellowship – what does that word mean to you? Most people think of this term when viewing a comfortable gathering of friends. We envision a living room setting with groups of people laughing and enjoying each other’s company and a refreshment table with coffee, tea, cookies, and cake. And – there’s nothing wrong with that view in the proper context. I love spending time with people and enjoying close fellowship.
However, when Paul uses the word fellowship here, it’s with a much different sense. In the context of his relationship with the believers at Philippi he says that he, “thanks God for their…fellowship in the gospel…” The word fellowship can also be translated partnership and in several newer English versions of the Bible it is translated this way.
What he’s saying is that he thanks God for their part in working with him to advance the message of Jesus Christ to an area where it did not exist. He is thankful for them being a part of the team in proclaiming Jesus and his death, burial and resurrection. He values them as co-laborers in proclaiming this Good News.
Paul was all about proclaiming Christ. He did it through personal evangelism, public speaking, planting churches, speaking before rulers, etc. He called those who heard and believed the message to partner with him. His whole life after conversion was about advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That was then.
What about now?
At Grace Fellowship a large part of what we should be about, like Paul and the early church, is advancing the Gospel. But the question is how are we doing it now; and how will we be striving to do it as we develop as a local body of Christ? Make no doubt – we are advancing the Gospel. In fact, I feel we have already done it in some very significant ways. We will also continue to advance the message of Jesus in the future.
Starting next Monday (11/5/2012), I’ll be posting a multi-part series on how this will look at Grace Fellowship. How are and will we, as a church, be partnering together to advance the Gospel? Come back Monday to learn more.