that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)
Fellowship is the center of Christian Relationships
Here at the beginning of the letter John repeats the word fellowship in two distinct contexts. It appears from the general context of the first three verses that the gospel of Jesus Christ has (among other realities) a binding effect among the community of faith and between the individual believer and the Father and Son. Let’s look at this more closely.
John has made an important point by saying that the proclaiming of the Gospel (i.e., “that which we have seen and heard) is a prerequisite fact to what is to follow. This is why he starts with the proclamation in order to get to the “so that”. This short phrase tells us the purpose of the proclamation. So, what is the purpose? It is so John and those who believe the Gospel that is proclaimed might have fellowship. The unity of the body is vitally important to John because it is eternally important to Jesus. Jesus prayed in John 17.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. (John 17:20-23a NIV)
The Gospel brings believers together because it has brought those same individuals closer to God. When a person hears the Gospel and believes their relationship with God through Jesus has begun. Now that the vertical relationship has been established, the horizontal relationship must be initiated. The reason that believers in Africa can have fellowship with Christians in China and in North America is because of the unifying power of our common faith in Jesus. According to John, his is one of the main reasons we should proclaim the Gospel.
Fellowship is not just what happens during potlucks at church. Fellowship is the family connection that is forged because of our faith in Jesus. As individual believers, we should seek to grow in our fellowship with those who are members of our local congregations, not look for excuses to not show up. The gathering of God’s people is a gift from God for the benefit of His children. Let’s not take it for granted.