Sunday 18th February 2018
God shaped – Love shaped
If God’s plan for the Church is to be God-shaped, then it will be shaped and distinguished by love. The Apostle John has a huge amount to say about this, not only in the Gospel he wrote but also in his letters.
This week we are going to read right through John’s first letter and see how every element of it is soaked in the theme of love. It is not love in a naïve emotional sense; we find love is a strong, active decision of the will, reaching out to add something to the lives of those around us.
V 7. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
Fellowship is one of those words that trips lightly off the tongue in our Christian community. To be ‘In Fellowship’ with a group of believers is sometimes taken to mean simply that we belong to the group in much the same way that we might be members of a cricket club or a book club. It signifies that we are paid up members, and join in whenever convenient. It expresses the notion that we have something in common with others in the group.
On other occasions we use the word to express the idea that we enjoy something together – ‘We had a good evening of fellowship together.’
Used in our faith context however it expresses commitment to each other. It is impossible to be ‘In Fellowship’ and not be part of the life of the group. This kind of fellowship derives from our being invited into the Trinity as members of the Body of Christ. The idea is clearly set out in v 3; ‘ We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.’ To belong to Christ unites us with Father and the Son in a practical and meaningful relationship. It involves walking in the light and experiencing forgiveness and cleansing from sin. Our fellowship with each other is much more than friendship; it is a deep-rooted union where we live for God and are as committed to other people as much as we are committed to God himself,
‘Fellowship’ is a deeply challenging concept because it calls us to let go of selfish preoccupations and work out our faith in the rough and tumble of daily living in the company of other believers.