90 The Pattern and Purpose of Christian Fellowship

Romans 15:1-7

1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God
.  (ESV)

Division diverts people’s attention from the Lord and from the dying world in which we live. It’s like a disease that takes up all the attention of the person who has it.

God wants His people to be united as one body.
Paul distils it all in the Great Commandment of loving God above all and our neighbour as ourselves.

  1. The Pattern – The Good of our Fellow man
    a. A Selfless Endeavour, not seeking our own interests.
    We mustn’t please ourselves, but be willing to build up our neighbour.
    The weak among us need to be restored in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1-5).
    We must seek to do good to one another (1 Thess. 5:13-19).
    b. The Saviour’s Example.
    Bear one another’s burdens as Christ bore ours (Phil 2:5-8).
    We need to be like Jesus – sacrifice ourselves for others, especially the weak and also those who are the architects of their own destruction.
    c. The Scripture’s Encouragement.
    Endurance comes when you feel like giving up, and you don’t – even if the whole world shouts at you that you’ll fail. Reading and believing the Scriptures gives hope.

  2. The Purpose – The Glory of our Father
    The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
    a. The Gratitude of our Fellowship
    Paul says “that together you may with one voice…”. A crowd only erupts together with one voice when they are overjoyed at something. We are grateful that we are the people of God, equipped for every good work; grateful for the encouragement of the Scriptures; Grateful for our Lord’s example. And so with one voice we glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Paul tells us how to do that in Rom. 12:14-21: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
    We are thankful because we don’t deserve to be saved and to have been made part of the fellowship of saints.
    b. The Glory of our Father
    We do it to the glory of the Father, which means to honour Him and give Him pleasure (2Cor. 1:3-44, Eph. 1:3, 1Pet. 1:3-4, Rev 1:5b-6).
    c. The Graciousness of our Fellowship.
    Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us for the glory of God the Father.
    God loves us because of what He is – not because of who and what we are. He went to the cross to so serve and save us.