We are a social culture, we strive for leaders and comradeship. We look up to and hang onto the words of our ministers. We crave acceptance. We desire to socialize with those of similar beliefs. Even in a faith-based spiritual fellowship we tend to follow the American Psychological Association’s definition of socialization, which is “the lifelong process whereby an individual’s behavioral patterns, values, standards, skills, attitudes, and motives are shaped to conform to those regarded as desirable in a particular society”. We depend upon others in our spiritual fellowship for validation of our faith and beliefs. We need to socialize, we are even encouraged to socialize in the Word. Hebrews 10:25 “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
When is fellowship not quite a good thing?
Going to church, or a convention, or any type of fellowship is not good if we are not going for the right reasons. We must not feel like we have to go in order to keep up with appearances. Joining a fellowship for worship, lessons and confirmations should be the only reasons to go. However, going only for the reason that others see you there or know you are going is not what is intended (and could be considered boastful or hypocrisy). So in these instances it is better to just not go join a fellowship.
Being involved in a fellowship is not a good thing when that is the only time we attempt to develop our spiritual relationship. When we rely upon the teachings of a church, minister, preacher, or whatever have you, rather than developing our own personal relationship with the Lord. When we carelessly follow the teachings of those ministers, leaders, or others in the fellowship without consulting the Lord if those ways are good, pure, and in His plans (e.g., Westboro Baptist Church).
Matthew 6:1-7 (NIV)Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Sometimes we must be cautious and thoughtful to make sure that we are not idolizing the ministers and leaders of fellowship. Many of these people have gained celebrity-like statuses and have become household names. Which is awesome, because they have wonderful and powerful messages from God that can and do touch many lives. But we must all be vigilant in making sure that we are not putting those people up on pedestals but rather study, consider, and meditate on the messages that they share in order to develop our own personal relationship to God. (Only God should be glorified and worshiped Luke 4:8)
Countless times I have seen people lose their faith because they feel that their church, fellowship, minister, or leader has failed them in some way or another. And I myself have gone through that same type of loss of faith several times throughout my own life. The reason for this is because when we base our faith upon something that is fallible and imperfect at some point or another it is likely that it will fail us. We must base our faith only upon the one true God and the Word, which is infallible, reliable, and steadfast.
I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is that we each develop our own personal relationship with the Lord. We must each study the Word on our own time, and not just during fellowship. Never cease to pray and meditate in the Spirit. Our personal relationship with God should come first and foremost, above all else. We must feed our spirit and our soul so that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the faith we have is based solely in the Lord, His Word and not in anything else.
Fulfilling His Purpose | Philippians 2:13 | His Yes Girl, Austi
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