The invisible church includes – by definition – all believers all around the world. That glorious fellowship around our God is something that we will not enjoy completely until we reach heaven. Until then, how do we deal with all the differences in the Christian faith?
Growing up in Minneapolis I was blessed to belong to a very large church with three campuses. I went to school with members of my church, played with members of my church. Almost all of my friends were Christian. Let me be clear – not only were they Christian – they were part of my church body. This continued through grade school, middle school, high school, even college, and yes, even graduate school while I attended Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. The first time I had to make friendships in the community outside of my faith was pastoring a church here in Winston Salem. That’s not a criticism of my childhood by any means. I had an incredible childhood, blessed with parents who introduced me to my Savior.
One of the first interactions that we had in North Carolina was at a McDonald’s play place. A young family invited my family to church with them. I have to work every Sunday morning so I have yet to take anyone up on that offer, but I appreciated the invitation. For the sake of this Bible class, let’s assume I worked 9-5, Monday through Friday. Would I have taken the family up on the offer? How can we decide where to worship?
The topic of Fellowship involves how we interact with other Christians. God does talk about differences among Christians in the Bible. There are important differences that involve key doctrines like if the Bible is God’s word. And then there are differences that don’t matter like if we use the “old” (Our Father, who art in heaven…) or “new” (Our Father in heaven) version of the Lord’s prayer. God can understand either just fine.
The topic of fellowship is a fascinating and at times dizzying because there are so many different variables. In general we always want to consider what witness our participation or lack thereof with other Christians will give to the people around us. We would never want to give someone who believes something different than us the impression that we’re on the same page or that those differences don’t matter. All of God’s word is important. That doesn’t mean that we can’t talk with them. That doesn’t mean we can’t join with them in community activities. That doesn’t even necessarily mean that we can’t be in the same worship service as they are. If you want to turn fellowship into an intricate series of prohibitions and rules, you’re barking up the wrong tree. If you want to throw caution to the wind and join with any Christian in worship, you’re not offering a faithful witness to the truth. Feel dizzy yet? Want to learn more about this topic? Watch this Sunday’s Bible study on fellowship.
Please click HERE to view the Bible Class slides.