Deep Fellowship

Philippians 2:1-3 – “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, and affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition of conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Paul gives 5 exhortations here: (1) Be of the same mind (2) Have the same love (3) Be in full accord and of one mind (4) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit (5) in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. All of these encouragements deal with how we interact with other Christians. They deal with how we fit in to the Church.

I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on these exhortations, and trying to put them into practice in my life. What I haven’t done is study the “how.” But God will never tell us what to do or how to act without also giving us the tools and direction to accomplish those things. So, in this passage, the “how” is 4-fold.

  1. Find your encouragement in Christ.

The majority of the time in the New Testament, the word for “encouragement” is translated as “consolation,” or, “that which affords comfort or refreshment.” When we put the ideas above into action, there will surely come times of fatigue, of weariness, and of pain. Where will we go when we come to those places? We must go to Christ. What better place can we run to for encouragement and consolation than to the One who bore our sin and shame for us? Going to Christ for encouragement brings perspective to our trials.

God will never tell us what to do or how to act without also giving us the tools and direction to accomplish those things

  1. Be comforted by His love.

Consider His love. Meditate on Jesus’ love for you. Meditate on the Gospel. Dwell on the crucifixion and the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, “because of His great love for us.” Seriously. Just think about that love for a minute. Let your heart be amazed and humbled and set in awe of such a selfless, sacrificial love that gave His life so that you could be forgiven. Find rest, and be comforted in this love that has been so richly lavished on us.

  1. Participate, or commune with the Holy Spirit.

I think the NASB gets this translation right – fellowship. It means that there is a vast importance on getting alone with God and “fellowshipping” with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can speak to us whenever He pleases, but God likes it when we are still before Him. So what does this mean? It means that fellowship with the body of Christ is secondary to fellowship with the Head. It doesn’t say, “fellowship with your friends.” It also doesn’t say, “fellowship with yourself.” You don’t get alone with the intention of giving yourself some attention. The attention and intention is on the Holy Spirit. It’s on pursuing Him.

Deep fellowship with the Spirit facilitates deep fellowship with people.

  1. Let affection and sympathy be a part of who you are

The word for “affection” here is literally translated as “bowels.” For the Hebrews, the bowels were considered the seat of the tenderer affections: kindness, benevolence, compassion. It can also be used to describe a heart in which mercy resides. The word translated as “sympathy” here is most often translated as “mercy.” Paul grouped these two words together because of their likeness in meaning. They compliment each other.

Well? Affection and sympathy for what? For who?

The Church.

These two words build off the previous three “how’s.” How can we gain affection and sympathy for our fellow believers? We do it by going to Christ for encouragement, finding comfort in His love for us, and seeking out and pursuing fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

So that affection and sympathy for one another is what will drive us to have the same mind, the same love, to be in full accord, to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, and to count others more significant than ourselves. And this attitude can only come to us when we go to Christ for encouragement, when we find comfort in His love for us, and when we seek out and pursue fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Deep fellowship with the Spirit facilitates deep fellowship with people.

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