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Fellowship Among Saints



During World War II, the enemy conducted experiments to find the most effective type of punishment for eliciting information from prisoners. They found that solitary confinement was the most effective. After a few days of solitary confinement, most men would tell all.

That is why we need fellowship—without it we too become easy prey for temptation and abandonment of our values. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



After many months of waiting, a Russian girl finally obtained a visa to visit her relatives in Canada for three months. She arrived in Canada and was shown around the various attractions, amusements, and entertainments. The young Russian seemed immensely impressed by the amount of things that people were wrapped up with. As the three months drew to a close, everyone expected her to defect and seek political asylum in Canada. She surprised them all by expressing a desire to return to her family in Russia and the small group of believers to which they belonged. She explained that in North America everyone seems wrapped up in “things” and doesn’t have time for people. In Russia, they don’t have as many material possessions and consequently they need each other. She wanted to return to a place where people relied on each other, where fellowship was important. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In 1963, Adlai E. Stevenson spoke to the students at Princeton University. “I understand I am here to speak and you are here to listen,” he said. “Let’s hope we both finish at the same time.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



There is a story about a man who wanted to train his mule. The first thing he did was to pick up a big stick and hit the mule a resounding wallop between the ears. As the mule staggered about, someone said to the owner, “What is the matter? Why did you do that?” And the man said, “In order to teach a mule, you must first get his attention.”

That may not be true of mules, but there is a good deal of truth in it when dealing with humans. For any communication to be effective, interest must first be awakened. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Clarity in Communication

If Jesus came to certain theological schools today and asked the professors, “And you, who do you think I am?” what do you think they might reply?

Some might answer, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the kerygma in which we recognize the ultimate significance of our interpersonal relations.”

And Jesus would probably say, “What?” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Clarity in Communication

”The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” – Mark Twain


Clarity in Communication

A stranger was walking down a residential street and noticed a man struggling with a washing machine at the doorway of his house. When the newcomer volunteered to help, the homeowner was overjoyed, and the two men together began to work and struggle with the bulky appliance. After several minutes of fruitless effort the two stopped and just stared at each other in frustration. They looked as if they were on the verge of total exhaustion.

Finally, when they had caught their breath, the first man said to the homeowner: “We’ll never get this washing machine in there!” To which the homeowner replied: “In? I’m trying to move it out of here!” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Lack of Communication

The story is told of two businessmen, an American and a Frenchman, who met on a transatlantic voyage. As the American was seated for lunch with the Frenchman, the later raised his wine glass and said, “Bon appetit.” To which the smiling American replied, “Johnson.” Since neither spoke the other’s language, no other words were exchanged during the meal. After the same thing happened at dinner, an observant waiter later explained to the American that the Frenchman was saying, “Hope you enjoy your meal.”

The next day the American sought out the Frenchman to correct his error. After finding him at lunch, at the first opportunity the American raised his glass and said, “Bon appetit.”—to which the Frenchman replied, “Johnson.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Lack of Communication

A department-store clerk was demonstrating the efficiency of a window-cleaning device by smearing margarine of glass and cleaning it off again. Quite impressed, one potential customer asked, “How much margarine do I have to use?” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



People need people. Laurie was about three when one night she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and ... well. "You know how to undress yourself," I reminded. "Yes," she explained, 'but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves." 

William C. Schultz, Bits and Pieces, December 1990.



I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.

John Wesley.

In the fall of the year, Linda, a young woman, was traveling alone up the rutted and rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. Linda didn't know you don't travel to Whitehorse alone in a rundown Honda Civic, so she set off where only four-wheel drives normally venture. The first evening she found a room in the mountains near a summit and asked for a 5 A.M. wakeup call so she could get an early start. She couldn't understand why the clerk looked surprised at that request, but as she awoke to early- morning fog shrouding the mountain tops, she understood. Not wanting to look foolish, she got up and went to breakfast. Two truckers invited Linda to join them, and since the place was so small, she felt obliged. "Where are you headed?" one of the truckers asked. 'Whitehorse'

"In that little Civic? No way! This pass is dangerous in weather like this." "Well, I'm determined to try," was Linda's gutsy, if not very informed, response. "Then I guess we're just going to have to hug you," the trucker suggested. Linda drew back. "There's no way I'm going to let you touch me!"

"Not like THAT!" the truckers chuckled. "We'll put one truck in front of you and one in the rear. In that way, we'll get you through the mountains." All that foggy morning Linda followed the two red dots in front of her and had the reassurance of a big escort behind as they made their way safely through the mountains. Caught in the fog in our dangerous passage through life, we need to be "hugged." With fellow Christians who know the way and can lead safely ahead of us, and with others behind, gently encouraging us along, we, too, can pass safely.

Don Graham.


What is meant by fellowship in this verse? Gossip? Cups of tea? Tours? No. What is being referred to is something of a quite different order and on a quite different level. "They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, and break bread and to pray. A sense of awe was everywhere. All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common. With one mind they kept up their daily attendance at the temple, and, breaking bread in private houses, shared their meals with unaffected joy as they praised God" (Acts 2:42-47, New English Bible). That is fellowship as the new Testament understands it, and there is clearly a world of difference between that and mere social activities.

The Greek word for fellowship comes from a root meaning common or shared. So fellowship means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person or receiving what he or she has. Give and take is the essence of fellowship, and give and take must be the way of fellowship in the common life of the body of Christ.

Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God (1 John 1:3). The person who is not in fellowship with the Father and the Son is no Christian at all, and so cannot share with Christians the realities of their fellowship.

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.

Fellowship in the N.T. basically means sharing and self-sacrifice with other believers. As N.T. scholar J.R. McRay has noted, "Fellowship in the early church was not based on uniformity of thought and practice, except where limits of immorality or rejection of the confession of Christ were involved."

Christianity Today, March 18, 1988 

Nowhere in the N.T. do any of the Greek words translated "fellowship" imply fun times. Rather, they talk of, for example, "The fellowship of the ministering to the saints" (II Corinthians 8:4) as sacrificial service and financial aid. (See for example, I Timothy 6:18). Elsewhere, Paul was thankful for the Philippian believers' "fellowship in the gospel" (Philippians 1:5), for he knew that "inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers (same word as fellowship) of my grace" (Philippians 1:7). This sort of fellowship may even bring persecution. We are to emulate Christ's humility and self-sacrificial love (Philippians 2:5-8) through the "fellowship of the Spirit" (Phil 2:1). In some way known only partially to us, we have the privilege of knowing "the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10), and even the communion (i.e. fellowship) of the blood...and body of Christ" (I Corinthians 10:16).

J.D. Morris.