Last week Norma Jean and I attended the “Golden Grads” luncheon during the Florida College Lectures.
It’s a reunion of FC classes spanning the years from 1947-1971. This is the third year we’ve attended. You do the math. If you think you’re not getting older, this is a good reminder.
But it’s an enjoyable time to reconnect and catch up with those in your graduating class, as well as previous and subsequent classes now scattered around the country.
Adam Olson, Chief Advancement Officer of Florida College, offered a few welcoming remarks and reminded us that we are uniquely bonded together by three important values: Friendship. Fellowship. Faith.
His observation is “spot on.” But it also ought to apply to our relationship in local congregations of the Lord’s people. However, since we see each other weekly, instead of annually, the familiarity, though it may not breed contempt, may cause us to take for granted our spiritual relationships. To lose our appreciation for the bond and basis of our relationship. And to lose sight of their significance and value.
Cultivating this three-fold cord that Adam cited would help us greatly in drawing closer to each other in our church families.
Friendship is about relationships and rapport. It has to do with community. Commonality. Closeness. Companionship. And comradeship. It is demonstrated in mutual affection, affinity, and amiability.
While we all have friends from various professional and personal associations, we enjoy uniqueness with our Christian friends. Friends with whom we feel a brotherly affection and to whom we give preference (Rom. 12:10).
The wise man spoke to this kind of friend when he wrote, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
Such friends help us grow. Sharpen us. Provide emotional support. Offer counsel. Bring joy to our lives.
Our fellowship goes beyond physical touch. Accepted norms. Social customs. Or rituals and relationships found in secular circles. It is richer. Deeper. And more significant. It’s spiritual in nature.
Our fellowship is with the Father. And so is the fellowship of our Christian friends. Thus, we enjoy fellowship with one another, as we walk in the light of Christ (I Jn. 1:3-7). It is a fellowship of the Spirit. A fellowship that is other-world-focused.
Weekly, we’re reminded of our fellowship as we participate in communion. There we are” all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28). Spiritual fellowship knows no bounds or borders. It crosses countries and continents. It overcomes arbitrary human distinctions that divide people by social standing, economic status, or political affiliation. It breaks down barriers of language. Race. And ethnicity.
Our friendship and fellowship are firmly founded on our faith. Faith in “the faith (Rom. 5:1-2). By faith, we each obtain justification, enjoy peace, and rejoice in the mutual hope of heaven we share.
Our faith is not based on a creed, but on Christ. It is not subjective but objectively rooted and grounded in God’s Word. It is a faith that provides shared values. Common objectives. Joint goals. Mutual ministry. And a united vision for the future.
It is through faith that together we overcome discouragement, persevere through hardships, bear one another’s burdens, and overcome the world with all of its temptations, snares, and deceptive allurements (I Jn. 5:4)
As one unknown writer put it, “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.”
Friendship. Fellowship. Faith.
May we together nurture and nourish these indispensable qualities that provide security, strength, and support as we journey toward the ultimate and eternal reunion in heaven.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman