But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The Message Bible says it this way: “But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” Let’s explore this shared life.
Most of my writing relates to our relationship with God and growing in Him. In this writing, I discuss our relationship with each other in the body of Christ. I truly feel that in this season God desires that we connect in an “iron sharpening iron” way with other believers (Prov. 27:17). In a society where trust levels are shockingly low, God wants His people to draw near to each other so as not to miss out on growth and edification that occur when like-hearted and like-minded Christians connect. We see this in Acts 4:23 when the disciples returned to the comfort of like-minded believers after suffering persecution for teaching about Jesus Christ.
Allow me to share about myself: I am an introvert. That is someone who is energized by being alone, reflecting, pondering, and enjoying an inner world of deep thought. Yes, I am talkative, but I am still very much an introvert. Extroverts, on the other hand, enjoy an outer world of engagement and interaction with others; they are revived and energized by meeting new people and connecting with large numbers of folks.
I share this information because those of us who naturally draw away from others might be in for a course correction from God. Personally, He is flipping the script on this introvert (me) by requiring that I reach out beyond myself for the next level of life and ministry. “The Word is My Life” Training Ministry is expanding. It is reaching different types of people from a wide range of backgrounds over various platforms. God is instructing me: “Expand … and connect with others to do so. I will shape the expanded vision for this ministry as you engage with and learn from others.” God is showing me a new way – a more excellent way – that requires relationship and fellowship. I’m excited, I’m receiving help along with new ideas, and I’m growing.
What does the Bible say about all this? Consider the story of Lazarus. When Jesus called Lazarus to come forth from the dead, he revived and returned to life. Then, Jesus required something else: Others were to loose the grave clothes that bound Lazarus (John 11:44). Jesus did His part, and He required others (the body of Christ) to work together for the full manifestation of this resurrection miracle. We need each other.
In all Biblical teaching, though, there should be a balance. Avoid harmful people or situations if possible, but if you land there, quickly release any offense. Keep in mind what God taught me: “Iris, you are a stranger passing through on this earth. When you are offended, you’ve placed too great an expectation on someone other than Me. Redirect your focus.” When I redirect my focus, I realize I actually lack nothing. God takes great care of me and meets my needs. As I develop the fruit of the Spirit – especially long suffering, gentleness, and self control (Gal. 5:23) – I’m learning to be content in the spiritual strength I’m gaining. In this day, let’s be a supernatural, unifying people with hearts that bless others and are free of offense.
God Revealed Through Others
Some of you might say, “Iris, I get the point. You are challenging us to draw near to others in the body of Christ – for fellowship, to help each other, and to build each other up. But I’ve been hurt in the church by Christians. I prefer to stay to myself – thank you.” I understand your concern. Let me help: When we carry hurt, it can quickly become offense that leads to a bitter root. Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) warns, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Bitterness corrupts. Friend, I resist offense in my heart; I do not want trouble or the flow of God’s grace in my life to be blocked. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Our brother Joseph knew this well. He held no offense against those who had done him harm … and God promoted him second only to Pharaoh (Gen. 50:20).
Lastly, as we choose fellowship, author Jonathan Cahn shares that we can see the face of God in others – the nurse who comforts a patient, the crossing guard who helps a child cross the street, the believer beside you in church. I have seen the face of God in many. I will never forget experiencing Him through the female pastor who loosed my grave clothes during a season of life when I was Lazarus. Through fellowship, God uses other believers to reveal Himself to us. Don’t miss out on that!
Pray about this writing and your level of connection to believers in God’s body. For those who don’t have a prayer partner, I would humbly, yet strongly, encourage you here. My life has been tremendously blessed by joining with others in prayer. Ponder this: Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39). I firmly believe He wants us to have sincere fellowship within the body of Christ because some of our greatest blessings will come through these relationships. Think on these things!