The difference between friendship and fellowship is determined by the depth of the relationship. Often we think exposing unfruitful works is to point out faults in the other person. However to live your life for Christ and have fellowship with a brother in Christ (iron sharpens iron), light of the Lord will increase in you. His light will expose the darkness in your friendships.
Ephesians 5:11-13, 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.
Verse 11 gives me the opportunity to expand on the difference between friendship and fellowship. Most of us develop different levels of friendships throughout our life. These friendships are often around kindred activities, hobbies, work, church, and even political venues. There is usually something about that person that stirs up a good emotion or memory of past experiences. Having a childhood friend is a typical example or seeing each other during adulthood and remembering the old time fun. A healthy friendship will not drain you, but should be one of mutual enjoyment. There may even be levels of encouragement between friends. In 1 Corinthians 1:9 the Apostle Paul tells us that God has called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul warns us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” The interesting point is his connection of communion in a similar context as fellowship. When we take communion we are actually participating in the body and blood of Christ. This is an outward expression of our inward joining of ourselves with Jesus. Romans 6:11 tells us we are alive together “in Christ”. (Emphasis mine) When we join ourselves to a person emotionally or partake of their friendship to the point we become at one with them in spirit, we have crossed over from friendship to a deeper level called fellowship. They look very close in outward appearance. Where we would slip into fellowship with an unbelieving friend, instead of keeping it on a friendship level, is if we decide to physically participate in, or give approval to, their sinful lifestyle.
Example; You could have an unbelieving friend from work or college that you have fun being around. Let’s say you both like skateboarding; So far no problem. If that friend happens to have an addiction to porn and you know about it hopefully you would encourage him to come to Christ so he could be set free. If you decide to go with him to watch or buy a porn movie because you are afraid of losing that friendship, or have been hanging around him enough that you decide to participate in that sin, you have just fallen into fellowship with his darkness. Even if you decide to not make a different sound to your friend for whatever reason, then your silence is giving approval to his actions. Your different sound would be shedding light on his sinful actions and could lead him to Jesus where he could be delivered. You may be the only friend he has that cares enough to help him get free from that addiction, but your spiritual strength and commitment to Jesus must be strong enough for that level of spiritual warfare. Friendships with people in the world can be used by God to bring more people into the kingdom of Christ, but the call of darkness to our natural mind can be overwhelming if we are not grounded in truth and “fellowship” with Jesus. This is all the more reason to find likeminded believers to develop friendship with. God can use this friendship to encourage and strengthen each other. Iron sharpens iron.
For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret, is another stumbling block for believers both old and young alike. If you are telling a believing friend of another friend’s sin, even for the purpose of asking for prayer, you could be falling into gossip. Choose your words carefully when you are giving reason for your prayer request. I have personally heard Christians sitting around and bring up a fellow believers dirty laundry, only to follow up with, “well we need to pray for so in so”. The damage has already been done; they have acted shamefully by speaking of things done in darkness. Another stumbling block can happen when a testimony of what God has done in a person’s life is shared. I have heard people give a several minute account of all of the sinful things they did, even going into greater detail than need be only to follow up with, “then God came into my life and now I am born again”. It is a good thing that they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, but their emphasis was on their past sinful life and not on the glory of God and Jesus.
Our walk with Jesus should be one of His light shining through our lifestyle. This can only happen through understanding what He has done for us and who we truly are in Him. Fellowship with likeminded believers is one of the main keys to growing up in this revelation. This fellowship will only be enhanced with continual hearing and study of God’s word. The word of God is alive and ever growing in our lives. It has the ability to speak to us right where we are and as we grow in Christ, the word seems to grow with us, shedding additional light on our walk.
Copyright The Power of Grace Ministries. All rights reserved.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Your, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming