Relationship vs Fellowship

If I were to ask you to meet for lunch next Saturday, would it be this Saturday, or the Saturday after this Saturday?

Your answer would depend on your definition of the word next in this context.

We don’t all agree on its meaning, and it’s led to more than one missed lunch dates.

Missing lunch is not the end of the world, and you probably wouldn’t have thought to ask for clarification of next. But if you asked to meet regarding your father’s will, and were advised you must appear in person or forfeit your share of the inheritance, chances are you’d insist on knowing the actual date and not rely on a vague reference.

The greater the value or risk, the greater our need for specifics.

Do you know the difference between the words relationship and fellowship? While we use them interchangeably, it’s important to understand they can have two very different meanings.

Not knowing could cause you to miss out on the most important inheritance of all. (Matt 25:34)

Relationship as defined by Meriam-Webster is “the state of being related or interrelated; connected by common ancestry or sometimes by marriage.”

To be in relationship with God, you must be born again. (Jn 3:3,5-6) At the new birth, you become part of the family of God with all its rights and privileges. You also become part of His church, which is the Bride of Christ. Your relationship with Him is established through adoption, and you will never be “unrelated.”

Fellowship is defined as “Companionship, Company: a community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience.”

You can be in relationship and not have fellowship, and you can also be in fellowship and not have relationship.

In the story of the prodigal son, the son asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left. He broke fellowship, but never stopped being his father’s son.

There are many in the church today in fellowship who are not in relationship.

How do I know?

Because of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

I’ve said it repeatedly, and I will say it again. Here are the four most terrifying words a person will ever hear in eternity.

“I never knew you.”

These are those who did “Christian things,” and were in fellowship somewhere. Fellowship with their church, fellowship with other believers, and fellowship with God.

But never in relationship.

They will be pastors, teachers, worship leaders, and faithful church attendees.

And Jesus said there will be “many.”

Don’t be one of the many.

If you are not in relationship you can be. Recognize you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and that salvation comes through Jesus alone. It is by grace through faith, and is the gift of God, not of works.

If you are trusting in anything or anyone other than the Jesus of Scripture (who is God) you may enjoy the fellowship of your church and the fellowship of others, but you are not in relationship with Him, and fellowship can’t save you.

There is an appointed time for us to die. We don’t know the day or hour, but it will come. We don’t know if there will be a next Saturday, a next Sunday, or a next opportunity.

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. (Ps 95:7-8) Surrender your life to a Christ.

Today is pretty specific.

Becoming a child of God (relationship) makes you part of His family (fellowship), and you will receive your eternal inheritance. (Eph 1:3-13)

Don’t wait for the next next.

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