Fellowship, according to Rick Warren, is one of the five purposes of the church.
The word fellowship brings back memories of growing up in a church where there was a sweet spirit among the members. I looked with amazement at how much the members of that congregation loved each other. Looking back, those memories continue to resonate in my soul.
But, I also remember how that sweet fellowship sometimes was interrupted by selfish and unspiritual attitudes during business meetings.
In many ways, those same characteristics are lived out in the lives of Christians today. A few years ago, a pastor remarked that we must continue to fight the world. To me the remark sounded like a call to war with sinners.
I have a different take on life. I believe we must be alert and active in confronting evil, while loving our enemies and praying for God's saving grace to impact their lives. It would take too much space to describe the many incidents in my spiritual pilgrimage that easily could bog me down in a swamp of broken fellowship.
However, I purposely choose to maintain my focus of telling every man and woman, boy and girl about the changing power of Jesus Christ.
Someone expressed to me their concern about the "fractured fellowship" in our state convention. I believe there is fractured fellowship when our eyes are not firmly focused on the cross and the Christ who died for all of us, forgiving even the very people who crucified Him. My prayer is for California Southern Baptists to remember that fellowship can only be achieved when our eyes are fixed on the cross and Christians love each other as Christ loves us.
I am reminded of the psalmist who wrote: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). I also am reminded of the Apostle Paul who wrote: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3).
My prayer for 2007 is that California Southern Baptists will keep our eyes on the cross so our fellowship will remain strong and we will work together to reach the world in California.