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We want to take a look at the subject of fellowship, something we are missing in a dire way these days. The very essence of life in the church is relational, and relational not in a superficial way, but in a very intense and deep and profound way. The model for that, of course, is the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in that eternal relationship of love. And we, being made in God image are made for relationship. And the purest and best and highest and noblest of those relationship categories exists in the life of those who belong to God who share His life. New Testament tells us that the Son of God came and pitched His tent among us. He took on humanity, and He lived with us, and then He sent His Holy Spirit to live not with us, but in us. We are all one in Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians chapter 4, the apostle Paul expresses essentially the same reality that I read earlier from 1 Corinthians 12. It says in verse 15 of Ephesians 4, “We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” We are the body of Christ. He is the head. It is His life that is in us and ties us together in spiritual life and love.

This is a theme that we run into a lot in the New Testament. Galatians 3, again, “We’re all one in Christ.” Philippians chapter 2, “If there’s any encouragement in Christ, if there’s any consolation of love, if there’s any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others.” In fact, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” the same kind of selflessness that He exhibited in His condescension and His willingness to go to the cross for us. Christianity is relational in the most intense and the most spiritual and the most eternal way. So it should be in the life of the church.

In the gray dawn of April 1945, in the Nazi camp at Flossenbürg there was a pastor who became famous: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was executed by special order of Heinrich Himmler who was Hitler’s executioner. Bonhoeffer had been arrested two years before and basically transferred from prison to prison, concentration camp to concentration camp, from Tegel to Berlin to Buchenwald to Schoenberg to Flossenbürg. And by then, with all those transfers, he had lost all contact with anyone that he ever knew. The outside world was completely severed from him, and he lost the most precious thing that he possessed. What he lost was fellowship, fellowship.

“For behold,” he thought, “how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” And that from his reading of Psalm 133. That was a very dear subject to him, the subject of brothers dwelling together in unity, and he had lost it, as it turned out, never to be restored to him in this world. That was such a precious reality to him that based on that verse in Psalm 133:1, he wrote a book, and the book is titled Life Together. He wrote of the richness of fellowship. Let me quote you what he wrote in part: “They physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer, a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God. How inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians.” He wrote, “Let him who has such a privilege thank God on his knees and declare it is grace, nothing but grace that we are allowed to live in fellowship with Christians.” He was right.

We at Grace Community Church can say an amen to that. We experience that. And that is exactly how the New Testament defines the church. As Christ’s church we are depicted as one wife with one husband, one set of branches connected to one vine, one flock with one shepherd, one kingdom with one King, one family with one Father, one building with one foundation. And then most uniquely, one body with one Head. And that is our unique identity. We are defined, in the chapter that I read earlier, as a body, in a living way spiritually connected together, mutually ministering to each other. This is, first of all, spiritual. It is a living organism connected by common eternal life granted by God. It is essential to who we are. When our Lord prayed in John 17 that they may be one, He wasn’t talking about our ability to get along with each other, He was praying to the Father that all who would come to Him would be one spiritually. And that prayer is answered in the church as the body of Christ.

We are spiritually connected and designed for shared life, shared love, shared purpose, shared ministry, shared truth, shared power. This is fellowship. This is the church. The verb “fellowship,” koinōneō, is used eight times in the New Testament. Seven of those are translated “share” in the New American Standard. One of them participates. It really describes a partnership. The noun form koinōnia is used about thirty times and carries the same idea. Sometimes it is translated “sharing,” “contribution,” “partnership,” “participation.” But it is the idea of a mutual dependency – partaking, contributing, sharing, linking together as partners with a common life and a common cause. We are not just one kingdom, not just one family, but one body, the most intense way to describe the dependency of the fellowship of the church. And in all honesty, I have to ask the question, “Is that really the contemporary evangelical view of the church?”

Back in the 1980s when Neil Postman, a Jewish humanist, wrote a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death. He spoke of the epic, tragic loss of serious thinking, and he was talking about how entertainment in specific had crippled the minds of people, and primarily in those days through the power of television. But he said this: “At least television is a group experience, and screens have been getting bigger to accommodate more people.” Well, Neil Postman could hardly have seen that screens were not only getting bigger, they were also getting smaller paradoxically. The seductive entertainment would go from public screens to the most private screens, as small as an iPhone or even Google glasses.

Your world gets so small that every person becomes a creator of his own private world, a secret world of preferences, temptations, with a force and ubiquity unparalleled in human history. The iPhone is the most selfish device ever invented. Once you needed a phone for only one purpose: to talk to someone else. Now your phone is used rarely to talk to someone else and mostly to create your own private world. Technology has put in the hand and very soon on the nose and before the eyes of all of us the most constant, incessant, accessible, visual, private world of self-centered indulgence and temptation and entertainment ever imagined.

You choose whatever you want. You choose your relationships. You choose who gets to get into your world and who doesn’t. You become your own god, you are the creator of your own private universe, and outside your own cyberspace is the outer darkness of all that you reject. Carl Trueman said, “The language of friendship is highjacked and cheapened by the Internet social networks.” He said, “The language of Facebook both reflects and encourages childishness. Childishness has become something of a textually transmitted disease.” End quote. Why would he say that? Because if there is anything that defines childishness it is selfishness, it is selfishness. And lest you think there is not childness in the church, ask yourself if we have not experienced the juvenilization of the church. Church has become the satisfier of everyone’s selfishness.

Carl Trueman said, “Relationships play out in the disembodied world of the Web.” High school students spend nine hours a day in their own world. Trueman says, “Such are human amoebas, subsisting in a bizarre nonworld that involves no risk to themselves, no giving of themselves to others, no true vulnerability, no commitment, no sacrifice, no real meaning, no value. Real fellowship cannot exist in the world of self-created avatars, it requires real persons created by God.”

Christianity is not a private experience. The church is not a private experience. But the rapid trend is heading to the norm of people creating their own virtual world of virtual self-preferences, making it whatever they want it to be, shutting out everyone else. They can upload the new creation into the Eden of the Internet, the perfect, indominable use, self-actualized like some technologized form of science of mind, digitized self-projection of idyllic personal design. The culture as a result is becoming more isolated, more consumeristic, more narcissistic, more self-absorbed, more individualistic, more morally corrupted and morally relative, and certainly more entitled. You expect to get what you want because you can create that.

And the church, oh well, we’re seen as not necessary. We’re finding out now that places that sell marijuana, they’re necessary; liquor stores, they’re necessary. Churches aren’t necessary because everyone can create his own religion. The evangelical church has for decades been trying to give the culture what it wants. And what does it want? It wants privacy, it wants convenience, it wants low commitment, it wants anonymity, it wants unaccountability, and it wants self-actualization. So church life is falling victim to the seductive self-design. And you hear people say, “It’s hard to find a church I like.” Really? Because we can’t all be the first church of your iTunes where you have all your music and all your messages and all your friends.

At a real church you might have to face an enemy or someone who’s outside your preferred world. You might even hear a message from a preacher who doesn’t say what you believe and doesn’t seem to care. And worst of all, you might have to listen to an old hymn in 4/4 time led by a senior citizen. And maybe that’s just too much for your self-created world. If you want that, well, this particular era in our history, this distancing might be ideal for you. You don’t need anyone else anyway. This doesn’t seem like any kind of dire situation. You can still piece together your world exactly the way you want it. You can have all your own information, experience, relationships designed your way. But what have you lost? You’ve lost the dominating power of the Word of God. You create your own world, you inevitably rule out truth, you rule out accuracy, you rule out reality, you rule out credibility, you rule out rationality, you even rule out relationships at their most dynamic and powerful level.

Online church is popular. For some people, this is no change. And going into a dark building and looking at a flatscreen preacher is no different than staying at home and looking at a flatscreen preacher. I read where one leader said, “Young millennials are leaving church and going toward Jesus.” Really? Leaving church and going toward Jesus, that’s frightening, because they’re going toward the Jesus they create. They’re leaving church because they don’t want to come under the authority of the Word of God. Church is unnecessary. You can join an eGroup, you can have a Facebook group, you can hear whatever you choose and not listen to whatever you don’t like. Plant your own church with one member, exclusive and isolated.

It was a few years ago now when the emergent church made its move, and we were essentially told that the church had to conform to this very personalized approach to life. And the leaders of the church agreed with that and they said everybody needs to be able to sort of paste their own religion together. One leader said, “I don’t worship God by singing.” Another wrote a blog on “Why I don’t go to church very often.” Another suggested that you could have your own personal communion with hot chocolate and cookies, and said it’s a fantastic bonding. “Create your own sacraments,” he said.

There are a lot of things that concern me. One of them that’s near the top of the list is that the church has fallen to a weak ecclesiology, an unbiblical definition of itself. And this will speed the decline even in the era of the fast-expanding impact of sound doctrine. Churches are more concerned with, “What is the plan for media? What is the plan for technology?” than “What is the plan for proclaiming the truth?”

And being separated like this works fine for a lot of people, but not for the true church, because the true church is necessary. We need each other, we don’t function without each other. The church basically grows up to Christlikeness by the mutual ministry of spiritual gifts. If you keep us separated, you short-circuit our life, our growth, and our testimony.

So I thought maybe this Sunday and next I would want to have you open your heart and mind to understanding how vital our fellowship is, how necessary the church is, how critical it is for us to be together. And I want to just break up with the New Testament says into some categories to help you with a clear understanding of the fellowship of the church.

Number one: What is its basis? What is its basis? What is the basis for our fellowship? What is the common ground that ties us together? It’s not emotional. It’s not denominational. It’s not societal. It’s not cultural. It’s not racial. It’s not ecumenical. It’s not even theological. It’s not human. It’s not experiential. It is spiritual and it is divine.

And I would just draw your attention to 1 John chapter 1 and verse 3, where we read this: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with the His Son Jesus Christ.” Our fellowship is a fellowship of those who are connected to the Father and the Son, and that means that salvation is the basis of our fellowship. The goal of the gospel was not just deliverance from eternal hell; it was that, but not just that; but fellowship with God – Father, Son, and we would add Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus prayed for in John 17, “Make them one with Us.” First Corinthians 6:17, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”

Fellowship is the linking together of those who commonly possess the life of God granted through faith in Christ. We are in the fellowship by salvation and we’re in it forever. Our fellowship is with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and every other believer. This is our fellowship. In that sense, it is an unending and eternal fellowship because we will spend eternity with the Father, with the Son, and with every other believer.

Listen to the words of Jesus in John 14:23. He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” So we’re not talking about something subjective here, we’re talking about something objective: salvation. Believing the gospel of Jesus Christ and being redeemed puts us in the fellowship.

Listen to the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:9. “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for your yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it.” If there’s anything that marks the fellowship it is common love. We are all bound up in the love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we love the triune God in return, and we love all those who love Him. Every genuinely converted person, every saved person, every regenerate person, every justified person is entitled and expected to enjoy the full fellowship of the redeemed, whatever their background, whatever their condition, whatever their economics, whatever their ability, whatever their status, because the basis of the fellowship is salvation. And John makes this very clear while we’re looking at 1 John.

John always in this short letter is identifying the marks of true Christians, and he says in verses 5 through 7, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there’s no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son is cleansing us from all sin.”

John says you’re either in the light or in the darkness. That is to say you’re either saved or lost. You’re either in the fellowship or out. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do, it’s how you live, it’s how you walk. Therein the truth is revealed. And if you are truly in the fellowship, then you will walk, verse 7 says, in the Light, the Light of truth and virtue; and you will enjoy the fellowship with others who are also in the Light, and you are continually being cleansed of your sins.

Verse 9 adds, “If we are confessing our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” One other characteristic of people in the Light is they are confessors. They’re always in the fellowship, they’re always in the light, and they’re always confessing their sins, and they’re always being cleansed.

A Christian can never be out of the fellowship, that’s impossible. It’s not that we don’t sin, that would be self-deceiving, verse 8 says, and that would be against the word of God, verse 10 says. It’s not that we don’t sin, but the bent and direction of our life is toward truth and holiness. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “A man walking along the deck of a ship might fall. His fall might hurt him, but it wouldn’t be the same as if he fell off the ship. A believer when he sins falls on the deck, but he’s never lost overboard. Christ has seen to it,” said Barnhouse, “that no wave – not death or life, or angels or principalities, or powers or things present or things to come, or height or depth shall ever sweep us off the deck. Fellowship is forever. Like David, we might have to pray, ‘Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,’ but we would never have to pray, ‘Restore the salvation,’ because it’s not lost, can’t be lost.”

We are always in the fellowship. All true Christians are one by virtue of new birth. We are one with the Lord who dwells in all of us, and then we are also one with each other. We come to each other in Christ. We come to each other as brothers and sisters in the family, and as more intimately, members of the very body of Christ.

Bonhoeffer understood this when he wrote, “I am a brother to another person through what Jesus Christ did for me and to me. The other person has become a brother to me through what Jesus Christ did for him. The fact that we are brothers only through Jesus Christ is of immeasurable significance. Not what a man is in himself,” he said, “as a Christian. His spirituality or his piety constitutes the basis of our fellowship. What determines our fellowship is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our fellowship with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.” And he closed by saying, “It remains so for all the future and to all eternity.”

Christian fellowship is not an ideal that we hope to realize, that we should realize. Rather, it is a reality created by God in which we participate. We want to do everything we can to show that spiritual reality in the way we live our lives. But the basis of our fellowship is we’re in Christ. That is very foundational and very clearly says this, that a church is made up of those who are in Christ. That’s a church. That’s a church.

When you come together as a church, the assumption is that you’re in Christ. That’s what a church is. Church has never been designed for nonbelievers. We’re glad when they come, see the testimony, hear the message; but the church is a fellowship that is the body of Christ of those who share His life.

So that’s the basis of the church. What is the nature of the church? In that I’m saying, “How does it function? How are we to live out this common spiritual life, this togetherness?” I think a good text for that is back in the book of Acts where we get the first glimpse of the church and how it functions. Acts chapter 2 takes us to the day of Pentecost when the church was born. And this is what we read about the church, that first church, that first day, the very day the Holy Spirit came and created the church, the body of Christ. Verse 42 of Acts 2 says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Now who were these people that first day? Well, we know who they were. Peter said in verse 38, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So they were those who repented, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who had risen from the dead, received forgiveness, and were granted the Holy Spirit. That’s who they were.

Verse 41 further describes them as “those who received his word and were baptized,” – confessing publicly their faith in Christ – “and that day there were added about three thousand souls.” So you have three thousand people who repented, believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, were baptized in that named, received the forgiveness of sins, and were granted the Holy Spirit.

And verse 42 then says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This was a rare moment in the life of the church because all the professors were possessors. There weren’t any tares. There weren’t any false believers on the day of Pentecost. There weren’t any fake Christians. It was the purest expression of the church ever.

Verse 44 says what defined them, “All those who had believed were together and had all things in common.” They were not only sharing spiritual life in Christ, not only spiritual power, but they expressed their partnership in fellowship, and it came down to the fact that there was an overwhelming unselfishness. Anything they had they held lightly. And when they saw somebody with a need, verse 45 says, “They began selling their property and possessions, sharing with them all, as anyone might have need.” This is the early expression of spiritual fellowship in a tangible expression of love.

Now what is amazing about this is that these three thousand people up until this very day were basically Jews that had been scattered around the world and had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They were from all around the Mediterranean area, they didn’t know each other. They, for the most part, had never met each other outside their own group coming from their own locale. And yet, in one day they repented, believed the gospel, were justified and transformed and given the Holy Spirit to take up residence in their hearts, and immediately there was a love bond that caused them to sell their property to make sure that resources were passed out to people they had never met before who had only been converted the same day. They literally would make themselves poor to make somebody else rich.

This is the fellowship. This is the fellowship, and there’s nothing in the world like it. Paul described it in Galatians 6:2 as “bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.” Amazing; in one day! A few days after, a few weeks, you’re liquidating your personal assets to give to meet the needs of strangers.

Verse 46 says there was something else: “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple,” – there was a church but there was no church building, so they gathered in the temple – “and also bread from house to house,” – having meals – “they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God.” Immediately there was this spontaneous unending worship. Fellowship, sacrifice, and worship.

Aristides was a pagan who looked at early Christianity and wrote this: “They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world when there is among them a man that is poor and needy. And if they have not abundance of necessities they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with the necessary food. Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct.” This was the early church, as we saw in Philippians 2: “They looked not on their own things but the things of others.” They considered others better than themselves.

The apostle Paul expresses that in Romans 1:11, “I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” He says, “I want to be with you because of the encouragement I receive in fellowship, fellowship, sharing love, sharing resources, sharing life, unselfishness.” That’s the nature of Christian fellowship.

The contemporary evangelical church is rife with what is called the prosperity gospel, which is a mad rush for everybody to get what they want. Nothing could be more devilish than that. Nothing could be introduced into the church that is more counter to everything the church is. If you’re looking at the church for what you can get, you don’t understand the church, and maybe and likely you don’t understand the gospel, because the gospel doesn’t make you self-centered, it makes you Christ-centered; and Christ is others-centered, and so would you be.

One final reality to talk about this morning is the symbol of the church. What is the symbol? Is there something that we can look at that sort of demonstrates this rich, loving, sacrificial, joyful, glad fellowship? Yes. The symbol, 1 Corinthians chapter 10, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verses 16 and 17. You remember that we read in Acts 2:43 that they were breaking bread. Well, here we find Paul talking about one of the things they did when they broke bread, which was to celebrate the cross of Christ.

You remember Jesus in the upper room the night before His death instituted the Lord’s Supper, the cup and the bread, the cup reminding them of His death, the bread reminding them of His body given for them. The church immediately, in the book of Acts, every time it gathered had the Lord’s Table: Communion. Paul speaks to that Communion in 1 Corinthians 10:16, and he says this: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the body of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” That’s just so helpful. Paul is saying, “This is the focal point of the body coming together to share the bread and the cup because we share the body and the blood.”

Verse 17, he adds, “Since there’s one bread, we who are many are one body; we all partake of the one bread.” Never is the church more demonstrably and visibly expressing its organic spiritual unity than when it gathers around the Lord’s Table, the beautiful ordinance of Communion. It has been warped, twisted, perverted into bizarre forms in the Catholic Mass. It has been treated with indifference in the foolishness of hot chocolate and cookies. But nothing expresses the life of the church more visibly than the Lord’s Table. We all come to the foot of the cross. We all come as forgiven sinners. We all come as one with Christ and one with each other.

Communion visualizes our fellowship. Christ is the head; we are all members of His body, all equally redeemed by Him. We all share His life, we are all sustained by that life. The Lord’s Table humbles us. The Lord’s Table levels us. The Lord’s Table calls us to self-examination. Paul says, “Don’t come unless you examine yourself.” The Lord’s Table vividly celebrates our reconciliation to God through Christ and His cross. We are united by the body and blood of Christ visibly at that Table.

I remember being in a church – large, large, megachurch. I hate that term, but it’s often used. And at the end of the service, the pastor said, “Well, this is Communion Sunday and we’ve put some crackers and juice by the door, so grab some on your way out,” and dismissed the service. The thoughtlessness of that bordered on blasphemy.

We come seriously to the Lord’s Table. We come confessing our sins. We come as His body, kneeling once again before His cross, and we face our sinfulness. That’s so important. One writer said he was absenting himself from the worship and from the Lord’s Table. The pastor went to see him, and after they had talked over the issues involved, they were sitting by an open fire. The pastor took the tongs from the fire and separated the flaming coals and spread them around the outer circumference of the open grate. In a few moments, the flames died down, and in another few minutes the coals lost their brightness and grew ashen and dull. The pastor looked at his member and said, “Do you understand?” The man had grace and wisdom enough to say, “Yes, Pastor, I understand.”

And then the pastor took the tongs again, and taking the coals from the outer edge of the grate, he drew them all together. And you, of course, know what happened. They had not been together many moments before they began to glow once more, and then they came up in flames, and the fire was strong. Again, the pastor looked at his erring member and said, “Do you understand? Do you?” He said this: “Let nothing divide you in your fellowship with your fellow believer because you will both be the losers. Not only will you both be the losers, but so will the integrity of the church. The flame will go down and the fires of spiritual life will depart.” He said, “Remember to gather at the Lord’s Table. It is there that we are drawn together; and the nearer we are to the Lord at His Table, the nearer we are to one another; and that ignites the fellowship.” It’s a Holy Table.

Some of you have asked why we don’t have virtual Communion. Because there’s no such thing. There’s no such thing as virtual Communion. The very word defies that. Communion, fellowship, virtual fellowship – a church knows nothing of virtual fellowship. We can communicate the Word of God, we can lead you in worship, but we cannot express fellowship. And that is one of the aches in my own heart to see vast numbers of people who have an experience when there isn’t some kind of quarantine, very much like they’re having now, a flatscreen experience that knows nothing of real fellowship.

If there is anything in this entire crazy world that is necessary it is the church of Jesus Christ. If you find yourself for one moment becoming comfortable in your pajamas on a Sunday morning, let this be a warning that you’re being led astray. Your heart should be aching for the fellowship and praying that it will come soon. This is the most necessary thing in all the world.

It is necessary for Grace Community Church to be together. It is necessary for us to get out of our houses and get back to this empty place and fill it up again, and reignite the fires. We’ve been separated like those coals. That protracted causes you to grow cold because you lack the power of mutual ministry of spiritual gifts, and mutual accountability, and mutual expectation, and mutual ministry. If you find yourself being led to any measure of comfort, ask the Lord to forgive you and light your heart toward the day when we all come together again. The church is a fellowship, and it expresses itself not in any virtual way, but in the real life joyful communion of the saints.

So the basis of our fellowship is our salvation, and the nature of our fellowship is shared life, and the symbol of our fellowship is the Lord’s Table. And the first Sunday we come back we’ll be at that Table, you can be certain of that. There is much more to say about fellowship, but you’ll have to wait till next week.

Father, thank You for giving us such a precious revelation of our identity in Christ, not only our relationship to You and You to us, but our relationship to every other believer. Thank You for Grace Community Church. Thank You for the love that exists in this place, for the shared life, for the sacrifice and service, for the ministry of spiritual gifts, for the expression of all the one anothers. Thank You that this is a resting place and a haven for people of every tongue and tribe and nation, that it looks like the world here, because there are people from everywhere who are in this fellowship. There are no barriers of race, no barriers of nationality, no barriers of ethnicity; for we’re all one in You.

And, Lord, we long to be together again; we trust that You will lead us in that expression. The world doesn’t appreciate us; it’s hostile toward us. It hates us because it lies in the lap of the Evil One. And doing damage to the church is of no consequence to the world and to many in power. They would be happy if the church never met. But, Lord, You need to open the door for us to come together. We are the most necessary expression of divine life in the world. We have to let the light shine so that the gospel becomes believable.

In the meantime, Lord, give us continued opportunity to minister Your Word and find ways to minister to Your people and many others for the sake of the gospel. And we’ll thank You in the name of Christ. Amen.

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