Sunday, December 19, 2004

Fellowship, Continued

A follow-up to my previous article on fellowship:

In Sunday school this morning we read from I Samuel 8-12, and though I'd studied it several times before there was one verse that jumped out at me that I'd never noticed.

I Sam. 10:26: "When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a band of men whose hearts God had touched became his constant companions." (NLT)

Saul had just been announced as the new king of Israel by Samuel. Most men would probably have been thrilled to be selected as king. The Israelites had been pushing for a king, and no doubt there were many men who, either secretly or publicly, imagined themselves in that role. Saul, on the other hand, had a very different reaction. His inclination was to run and hide among the baggage during his coming out party (see vs. 22). Perhaps he was overwhelmed by the thought of being the go-to guy for Israel. Maybe he had a sense of the impending pressure and expectations he would face. It seems that the fear of taking charge of the kingdom outweighed the honor.

Perhaps that's why God surrounded Saul with a group of men who He had hand selected to serve as companions to Saul. I'm not sure how long that band of men stayed together; it's not long before Saul starts a downward spiral into disobedience and ultimately paranoia and murderous rampages. Most likely there was a great lack of Godly wisdom and companionship in Saul's later years.

God-ordained fellowship seems to be very important throughout the Bible. David had Jonathan as his brother in friendship. Jesus did not need fellowship on Earth to keep Him from sinning, but He still chose to call men to serve with Him as an integral part of His ministry. In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon speaks of the benefits of two walking and working together in harmony.

But to me, the most exciting talk about fellowships in the Bible is the revelation that we can have fellowship with GOD.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” (I John 1:3, NIV)

How mind-boggling is that?? To know that I can commune with the Creator of the universe just blows me away sometimes.

As far as human fellowship goes, I've prayed many times before for more friends. But I'm changing my prayers now to seek not necessarily a higher quantity of friendships, but a deeper quality of friendships. I think the fellowships I’m seeking have to come from God, not manufactured by me. And that’s really what makes the fellowships I already have so special, knowing that it was God who brought our hearts together.

I think the story of Saul's divine appointment as king and God placing companions in his life drives home to me the importance of having men and women who provide the support, encouragement and honesty that I need. I think we all need that, no matter how "far" we go in life. I don't think we always realize that need, however.

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