Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Joy of Fellowship

Take some time and think about those moments in your life that you would describe as joyful.  What is a common theme that runs through those experiences?  I am going to take a wild guess and say that the theme of relationships runs through your experiences of joy. 

I am aware that there are exceptions to this.  There is a certain amount of joy I experience from running in the morning.  There is joy in the watching the world "wake up," just as there is joy in the knowledge of the warm shower which awaits me when I return home. 

Yet, I want to suggest to you that joy is primarily found in relationships, and our relationships are the primary reason why we experience joy even when we are alone.  In other words: an absence of relationship means an absence of joy.  Relationships make joy possible.

Consider the words of John in 1 John 1:1-4
We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. (NLT)

The two key words I want to pull out of this passage are fellowship and joy.  The apostle John here connects these two words together.  Fellowship is necessary for joy.

Fellowship is not just about "hanging out," going out for coffee together,  going to a party together, or taking a vacation together.  Fellowship is about doing life together.  It is living life with a common purpose.  One of the best illustration for fellowship, in my humble opinion, is The Lord of the Rings.  The fellowship was bound together by a common purpose, and through that purpose relationships began to flourish: even between an elf and a dwarf.  To have fellowship means to be in relationships with people that a striving for the purpose you are striving to acheive. These relationships are the best relationships that we can have.

I also have to point out that John tells us that there is one relationship, one fellowship, that is more essential than any other.  That relationship is the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ.  This is the supreme fellowship of our lives, and when we have made this our primary fellowship joy will then seep into every area of our lives.

Relationships have the ability to get us to focus outside of our tiny little lives to see the world that exists around us.  When we are in fellowship with other people, and especially in fellowship with the Creator, our minds are not thinking about all the unmet desires in our lives, but rather our attention is placed on the those that we love.  The foundation of joy is found in those feelings of love and contentment that we experience in community, but those  feelings often give away to a third feeling of joy, the feeling of desire.  Joy awakens in our hearts the desire for better things to come.  We desire because we realize that in those short moments of joy we experience are just a foretaste of what lies ahead.  Part of the experience of joy is the expectation of God's new creation that rests in our hearts.

There is joy in the journey and it is discovered through our relationships.  Today is a good time to start focusing a little more attention to those people who matter the most to you. Who knows the joy that awaits you if you do.

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