Typically when we speak of double-mindedness the image stirs up negative connotations in our minds. However, it does not necessarily have to take on that meaning. We can be double-minded in that we are pursuing two different yet complimentary goals. Such is the case of Christian fellowship. J.I. Packer says the following about Christian fellowship:

Christian fellowship is an expression of both love and humility. It springs from a desire to benefit others, coupled with a sense of personal weakness and need. It has a double motive – the wish to help, and to be helped; to edify, and to be edified. It has a double aim – to do, and to receive, good. It is a corporate seeking by Christian people to know God better by sharing with each other what, individually, they have learned of him already.

The lifeblood of organic biblical community is the kind of fellowship that Packer describes above. Our understanding of fellowship – for many  – becomes a tale of two extremes. Authenticity is the new ethic within the Christian community, and by authenticity what is typically meant is transparency. This means as willingness to get messy in our relationships by revealing our weaknesses and encouraging one another in them. It is a willingness to say to a group of individuals with shared but not necessarily like weaknessess, not that I need you for the sake of sanctifying my personal weaknessess (and perhaps vices), but that I need you to embrace me as I am. 

But  true Christian fellowhip isn’t  the kind of transparency that too often leads to the justification for and of our personal weaknessses and vices. True Christian fellowship is marked by our weaknesses, which communicate need, but this is not simply for us to gain acceptance by our peers. The nature of true Christian fellowship is that through relationship with our Christian brothers and sisters, we become more like Jesus Christ.

And the goal isn’t just that we would be helped, but that we, too, might be of benefit to others. Too often Christian fellowship becomes a parasitic relationship where the weak attach themselves to the strong. The strong, then, help but are often burdened by the weak (perhaps because they do not feel a sense of personal need in this relationship), and the weak, rather than seeking ways to edify and do good to their stronger brothers, are content to take in this relationship without ever giving back.

Another thing becomes clear in Packer’s definition of biblical fellowship. Notice what the focus of it is. The focus isn’t one another. The focus is Jesus. The goal is to get to know God (and one another) better by sharing what they have already learned of Christ. This, perhaps, might be the greatest indictment of whether or not we sincerely enjoy Christian fellowship within our churches. We may get to know one another better by sharing with one another about ourselves, but we gain both knowledge of one another and Jesus when our relationships are focused on sharing with one another what we are learning for Christ day-by-day.

Advertisements