By Guest Writer
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” begins the unofficial United States Postal Service motto, a sentiment that I believe also applies to the spiritual discipline of fellowship. My husband and I have led a weekly small group in our home for over four years. We can say without a doubt that the forces that try to keep us from living on mission together stand no chance against us when we serve, share life with, and bear burdens with others believers. And as Coloradans, we have literally not allowed snowy conditions to keep us from meeting together.
In our years of leading, we have witnessed how God produces good fruit in people who choose to invest in godly community. It can be so easy to want a community that looks, feels, and talks exactly the same way we do. Which is why fellowship is a discipline—we learn to respect and care for people who won’t be exactly like us. We have to practice habits of serving people when it’s hard and bearing with people when they may not be in the same place spiritually as we are.
God has “arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted” (1Corinthians 12:18). As we move toward Jesus together, we grow in concern for the person sitting next to us. Our small group is made up of varying stages and experiences of life: married couples, older single women and younger single men, pilots, new mothers, and drummers in rock bands. And just when I think someone doesn’t have anything to teach me about God, a testimony from the quietest member convicts me and strengthens my faith.
The discipline for fellowship then is not about finding the “right group of people.” It is about committing to a group of people who are “devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). It is about creating an environment of men and women who watch out for one another “to provoke love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). We must fight our temptation to avoid or neglect our spiritual communities, and instead become men and women who shape our spiritual communities with God’s love.
We, as the Body of Christ, need every person to do their part (1Corinthians 12:12). We can use our gifts to encourage our communities to engage with each other, or offer to be an accountability partner to others. Though it may be overlooked, an invitation to a meal can be an act of communing with God and one another. Being willing to pray for one another, reading Scripture when we gather, and working through our local church’s teachings are valuable rhythms for fellowship.
No matter what your past experiences with community may be, or your feelings of indifference toward meeting regularly with believers now, I encourage you to not allow snow or rain or anything at all to keep you from engaging in godly fellowship.
Written by Bailey T. Hurley