Sunday, September 09, 2007

Vertical Fellowship

I'm very behind on personal stuff.. emails.. and posts here. I normally like to make longer more thought-out posts here but I think I'm going to post a couple of short things in hopes that some conversations break out about them.

Lately I've been thinking about Christian Fellowship.. how does it really work? I find myself looking at 1 John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
It seems to me that I have fellowship with Christians primarily through my fellowship with God. Time fails me to post it all, but we see in Scripture that a Christian has fellowship (unity, commonality.. in a personal way) with all Christians around the world - and in Time, past present and future. Yet when I listen to Christians talk and interact with them on-line it seems that most of us think our fellowship is a horizontal thing.

I see the Brethren judging the Brethren based on fleshy things.... going so far as to judge another's salvation based on performance. While there IS Biblical discipline, it is a very structured thing that is not done by one person and so is not subject to an individual's personal bent on the Word of God or ideas about Christianity. How are we to look at each other if not directly at them? If not directly at their sin, their spots.. the specks in their eyes so to speak. Paul gives us the answer in 2 Cor 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
We're actually not supposed to look at people in the flesh any more. Because we've seen God come in the Flesh and He has done His work on the Cross. Now we should see people as God sees them. How does God see a Christian? As Christ Himself. Again I only have moments to post this so I can't put a full defence of this but if it comes up in conversation that would be good.

How do I see the person in the pew next to me as Christ? Especially when I see him tired.. maybe fighting with someone.. maybe not acting the way I think a Christian ought to act?

I keep my eyes on Christ. My fellowship is Vertical. It goes up and down between God and I. This other's Christian's fellowship is also vertical going up and down between God and he. So if I have fellowship with God, I can have vertical fellowship with the person beside me as well. My fellowship with him comes down from God to me. So if I'm looking at God and see Christ (as should be my focus) and God sees that person as Christ then when I'm looking at God I'm seeing both God and the person beside me in Christ.

Now if that person (or I) breaks fellowship with God, that will firstly and primarily be between he and God. When it becomes evident to me that he has broken fellowship then I need to go through the proper discipline actions in the Church. But amazingly, the Person I'm still focused on has not changed so my view of this person beside me still has not changed.

This is so incomplete.. but it's been on my heart in a big way.

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