One of the greatest blessings of Christianity is the fellowship we share with one another, but being a Christian also means we must limit our fellowship with certain people and works of the world. The fellowship of God’s people is important. It was one of the first activities mentioned in the newly established church of Christ. Luke wrote, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). God intends for His people to spend time together praying, worshipping, and working for Him. Fellowship is one of the ways we grow as Christians, and God providentially works through our fellowship to support and help us. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). While Christian fellowship is important for our growth and faith; we must be careful to avoid fellowship that is condemned in God’s word. As God’s church (the ekklesia), we are called out of the world to be sanctified, or set apart from it. Let’s examine a few passages from the New Testament that explain what the limitations of our fellowship with the world should be.
1. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:14-16). Christians have to live in the world, but we must not be of the world. We will work among unbelievers, have family members who are unbelievers, and in some cases be married to men or women who are not Christians. To avoid all fellowship with the world, we would have to leave it. God does not want us to stop living in the world because He wants us to convert it (Mark 16:15), but He does want us to realize we cannot spiritually fellowship with those who are not equally “yoked” in the faith of His Son. Our faith and spirituality is what should cause us to abstain from fellowship with those who practice and advocate unrighteous behavior or religious error. Our worldly relationships and spiritual relationships must remain separated by the direction and guidance of God’s word.
2. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11). Paul stated above that we should not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers and in this text he goes on to state that we should not have fellowship with the evil works they do. Paul told the Thessalonians to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). We show our approval of evil activities when we fellowship with those who practice them. For example, we would not worship with a church that taught religious error, because by doing so we would be approving of their activity and violating God’s law (Rom. 16:17,18; 2 John 9,10). Paul not only told us to abstain from and avoid fellowship with evil, but also to “expose” it. Remember, Jesus taught that people would glorify God when they saw the good works of Christians (Matt. 5:16). If we wear the name Christian and fellowship the works of evil, we will hurt and discredit the cause of Christ.
We must be careful how we associate with others as Christians. Engaging in improper fellowship can endanger our souls, and be a bad influence toward others. -Ed