Saturday, August 11, 2007

Packer on Fellowship

In preparation for the following two Sunday's sermons (Aug. 19th and 26th), I've been reading up on the concepts of Christian community and fellowship. The following quote from J.I. Packer is perhaps the best two paragraph, devotional definition out of everything I've seen.

J.I. Packer (God’s Words: Studies in Key Bible Themes, pg. 193)

Christian fellowship is two-dimensional; it is first vertical and then horizontal. The horizontal place of fellowship…presupposes the vertical for its very existence. The vertical dimension of fellowship was described by John when he wrote: ‘our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ’ (1 Jn. 1:3). This fellowship is what makes a Christian; indeed, John’s words afford a precise definition of a Christian. The man who is not in fellowship with the Father and the Son, however upright and pious he may be, is no Christian at all. The horizontal dimension of fellowship is the habitual sharing, the constant giving to and receiving from each other, which is the true and authentic pattern of life for the people of God.

Fellowship with God, then, is the source from which fellowship among Christians springs; and fellowship with God is the end to which Christian fellowship is a means. We should not, therefore, think of our fellowship with other Christians as a spiritual luxury, an optional addition to the exercise of private devotion. We should recognize rather than such fellowship is a spiritual necessity; for God has made us in such a way that our fellowship with himself is fed by our fellowship with fellow-Christians, and requires to be so fed constantly for its own deepening and enrichment.

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