Have you ever filled out a job application and had to list references? Did you have to identify their relationship to you as well? How about the paperwork you fill out at the doctor’s office or hospital? You are asked to list numerous ailments/conditions that family members have and then you are asked to identify their relationship to you.
Have you ever had someone preach a message and heard them refer to your personal ‘relationship’ with God? How about when you were born again? Did you hear how you need to confess your sins, repent, ask Jesus to forgive you, and then you can have a personal relationship with God?
There are subtle differences between the words relationship and fellowship. I believe that most people say relationship but mean fellowship when speaking about the Christian walk. At the risk of seeming petty, I’d like to draw attention to these two words for a fresh look at them.The American Heritage Dictionary
1. The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
2. Connection by blood or marriage; kinship.
3. A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other: has a close relationship with his siblings.
4. A romantic or sexual involvementThe Random House Unabridged Dictionary
defines it in similar fashion and adds synonyms to it.
re‧la‧tion‧ship /– noun
1. a connection, association, or involvement.
2. connection between persons by blood or marriage.
3. an emotional or other connection between people: the relationship between teachers and students.
4. a sexual involvement; affair.
—Synonyms 1. dependence, alliance, kinship. 2. affinity, consanguinity. Relationship, kinship refer to connection with others by blood or by marriage. Relationship can be applied to connection either by birth or by marriage: relationship to a ruling family. Kinship generally denotes common descent and implies a more intimate connection than relationship: the ties and obligations of kinship.
(Notice how kinship intensifies the meaning of relationship. Kinship includes relationship, but is more intimate than relationship
.)The American Heritage Dictionary
a. The condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion, or nationality.
b. The companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms.
2. A close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests.
3. Friendship; comradeship.
a. The financial grant made to a fellow in a college or university.
b. The status of having been awarded such a grant.
c. A foundation established for the awarding of such a grant.Random House Dictionary
defines fellowship as:
1. the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind.
2. friendly relationship; companionship: the fellowship of father and son.
3. community of interest, feeling, etc.
4. communion, as between members of the same church.
6. an association of persons having similar tastes, interests, etc.
7. a company, guild, or corporation.
a. the body of fellows in a college or university.
b. the position or emoluments of a fellow of a college or university, or the sum of money he or she receives.
c. a foundation for the maintenance of a fellow in a college or university.
–verb (used with object)
to admit to fellowship, esp. religious fellowship.
–verb (used without object)
to join in fellowship, esp. religious fellowship.
—Synonyms 2. comradeship, camaraderie, friendship, society, intimacy.
While the two words sound the same and are defined similarly, one is more intimate and more specific.
How do we make our connection to God using the word ‘relationship’? Let me give you an example of ‘relationship’ evangelism.
Acknowledge your sin, repent of it, ask God to forgive you, and you will have a personal relationship with Him.
On the surface, this seems wonderful. But is it really the connection that God wants with his children?
From the moment that God created man and placed him in the garden, man has had a ‘personal relationship’ with God. It is one of Creator and created. Whether you have believed on Him as your Lord and Savior or not, you have a personal relationship with God. He is the Creator and we are His creation. THAT
is the relationship and it is quite personal.
But to have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ makes that relationship become more intimate as kinship. Scripture declares that when we are born again we become children of God; kinship. When we are born again, God becomes our Father; kinship. (Remember that kinship is a more ‘intimate’ relationship.)
But with regard to our faith life, do we want to stop there or is there more?
While I believe that kinship is incredibly important and a huge blessing ~ I believe there is much more. I believe, while God wants all of mankind to become His children, what God wants is fellowship with His children.
Unfortunately, in our American society, there are numerous examples of ‘kinship’ that does not include fellowship. There are many children who have kinship but no fellowship with one (or both) parents. These are people who have sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents (all kinship) but no fellowship. They are related by blood (or marriage) and yet they never see each other, never spend any time together, and do not know each other. They have a relationship of kinship but no fellowship. I think that this is unfortunate – both of the natural family as well as the spiritual family – as I see many examples of this in the church family also.
But I don’t believe this is what our Father God wants… I think we need to press a bit further toward His heart. That means we may have to get out of our ‘comfort zone’ but we’ll find ourselves in a more intimate place with our Lord.
Intimacy requires trust. There is no way around that. You cannot have intimacy without trust. You must trust the person to whom you are being intimate with and you must also be trustworthy. This is also a challenge for many because of influences from society and personal experience. You must search the Word of God to find His heart toward you and let that build your trust and your faith. He is gentle and loving and patient… all very important ‘trust-building’ characteristics.
Fellowship, at its best, is each knowing the ‘heart’ of the other. To fellowship with the Father is to know His heart and He knows yours. To be able to fellowship with Him, you must be in His Word – for it is there He is revealed to you. To fellowship with Him you not only need to know Him but be known by Him. That means talking with Him, spending time with Him, including Him in all areas of your life.
This is a very worthy goal… fellowship with the Father.CLICK HERE if you want a list of all the scripture verses that have "fellowship" in them...