“When Adam and Eve fell and chose to make themselves, rather than God, the center of their life, the effect was not only to put them out of fellowship with God, but also out of fellowship with each other.”
Broken fellowship with God always results in broken fellowship with others. We must get off the throne and onto the altar! Christ’s life is only manifested through us when we die to self. Self dies hard and demands it’s own way. Isaiah says “all of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB1995).
Christ saved us from this fleshly, self-centered attitude. “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…” (Ephesians 4:17-18 NKJV).
Notice that Paul refers to unbelievers as having their understanding darkened. They are alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, and because of the blindness of their heart. Before Christ came, the world was dark.
“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on High will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
We not only have peace with Christ, but through Him we can have peace with each other. As believers, we have the Light of the World living within us and we are invited to walk in His light. Evidence of our walking in the light is seen in our relationships.
“If we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NASB1995).
However, “If I want my own way rather than God’s, it is quite obvious that I shall want my own way rather than the other person’s.” Roy goes on to say, “Everything that comes as a barrier between us and one another; be it ever so small, comes as a barrier between us and God.”
Jesus desires us to be unified. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23 NKJV).
Our oneness with Christ is reflected in our oneness with each other. John reminds us that “the one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now” (1 John 2:9 NKJV).
Deeds of darkness like hatred and bitterness tend to hide themselves way down deep in our hearts. We like to wear our best faces to church, but our smile could mask a fleshly attitude. Roy refers to it as “being unreal, pretending” and “window dressing.” He says, “the first effect of sin in our lives is always to make us try to hide what we are. Sin made our first parents hide behind the trees of the garden, and it has had the same effect on us ever since.” Our flesh will always try to hide the truth about ourselves, but we must allow the light of Christ to shine on our hearts!
“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT).
What do authentic relationships between believers look like? “Love will flow from one to another when each is prepared to be known as the repentant sinner at the cross of Jesus. When the barriers are down and the masks are off, God has a chance of making us really united.”
“Walking in the light is simply walking with Jesus.” As we continually keep our cups clean before Him in brokenness and surrender, He fills us and our hearts are transformed. “What fellowship it is when we walk this way together!”
Chapter 3 Homework
Day 1: Love
- Read 1 John 1:5-10 and 1 John 2:9-11. List everything you learn about walking in the Light and walking in the darkness.
- Read John 13:34-35. What kind of testimony is there to the world when we as believers love one another?
- Read Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit can be summarized in “love.” Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all aspects of love. In Galatians 5:25-26 what happens in our relationships when we are not walking by the Spirit?
- Read Matthew 22:37-40. What two commandments does Jesus give? Why is the first commandment greater than the second? (hint, the second commandment would not be possible without the first).
- Read 1 Corinthians 13 and list what love is and what it is not.
- Read John 15:1-17 and underline each use of the word love. How does verse 5 encourage you to not depend on your own strength to love someone?
Day 2: Serve
- Read Galatians 5:13. How do we serve one another?
- Read Ephesians 5:2. How are we to walk? How did Christ love us?
- When we serve, who are we ultimately serving according to Colossians 3:23-24? What is the promise given? How does this compare to Ephesians 6:7-8?
- What do you learn about serving from Acts 20:35?
- Read Philippians 2:1-4. How do these verses exemplify serving each other? How did Jesus serve us in Philippians 2:5-11?
- Read 1 Peter 4:9-10 and James 1:27. What do these verses teach you about serving?
Day 3: Forgive
- Read Mark 11:25-26. What do you learn about the importance of forgiveness?
- According to 1 Peter 4:8, what does love cover? How does this speak to you in your relationships with others?
- Read Matthew 18:21-35. What do you learn about forgiveness?
- Read Romans 5:6-8. How did Christ forgive us? What was our condition?
- Sometimes a fellow believer refuses our attempts at a restored relationship. This can be very painful in our Christian walk. How does Romans 12:17-21 speak to this issue and what would God have us do? What encouragement do you see in 1 Peter 2:22-24?
- How did Jesus say we are to treat our enemies in Matthew 5:43-48? How did Jesus respond to His enemies when He was on the cross in Luke 23:34?
Day 4: Forbear
- Read Ephesians 4:1-6. How are we to treat each other? How does verse 2 specifically relate to being longsuffering or forbearing?
- Read Colossians 3:12-14. List all the things we are to put on.
- Read Psalm 86:15 and 2 Peter 3:15. What do you learn about the character of God?
- Read Philippians 4:5. What should be known to all men and why?
- Read Colossians 1:9-12 and record verse 11-12 in your journal. How do you attain steadfastness and patience? (v 11) How does this encourage your heart?
Day 5: Encourage
- Read Hebrews 10:24-25. What do you learn about encouraging each other and the importance of biblical community?
- Read Ephesians 4:15-16. How are we supposed to speak the truth? What causes the growth of the body of Christ? What is the purpose of the body of Christ in relationship to one another? (hint: end of verse 16)
- What was Paul’s desire for the church according to Colossians 2:1-3?
- Read Hebrews 3:13. What are we told to do? How does encouraging each other in the Word keep us from being deceived or hardened in our heart? How does this compare to Proverbs 27:17?
- What does Romans 14:19 say we are to pursue? Read 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11. What does verse 11 say we are to do? Why are we to do this according to verses 5-10?
- Take some time to journal what God has been teaching you this week about authentic Christian fellowship.
Please note that unless stated otherwise, all italicized quotes that are not directly cited from an author or Scripture are direct quotes from the book, The Calvary Road, by Roy Hession.