MONDAY MINUTES With Elder Chris McCool (February 1, 2021)

Last week, we began talking about the biblical concept of fellowship. We discussed what fellowship is: it is translated from the the Greek word “κοινωνία” (koinonia), which denotes “partnership,” or “joint participation,” and means more than just “showing up.” The idea is of a joint undertaking in which each member contributes – there must be participation on your part if true fellowship is to be enjoyed!

Today, I want to look at HOW we engage in fellowship. Does the Lord care about how we interact with one another within His church? The clear answer from scripture is “yes.” And there are some biblical principles that should apply to our church fellowship.

First of all, we fellowship together by meeting together. The writer of Hebrews is clear that we should be present each time the church meets: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Heb. 10:25. How can we exhort one another if we aren’t WITH one another? And it is ESPECIALLY important to gather together during perilous times, which the Apostle Paul promised would be coming in the last days.

In Luke 4:16, we are told that Jesus “came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word “custom” means “to be used (by habit or conventionality)”. That is, it was Jesus’ habit to go to the place of worship! If it was Jesus’ habit, shouldn’t it be ours?

Secondly, our fellowship in the church setting should NOT be segregated! I realize this term normally refers to racial divisions, and certainly there should NEVER be a segregation by race. God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26), and any segregation or discrimination based on anyone’s race is wholly forbidden by scripture! I think we all can agree on this principle.

But there is another type of segregation that often occurs in God’s house. In many churches in the world today, members are segregated out into classes by gender, age, marital status, or some other arbitrary categorization. Let me be clear: there is NO biblical precedent for separating out by age or any other standard! In the Old Testament, we see example after example of families worshiping TOGETHER, with fathers and mothers leading the children in learning about God.

For example, see Joshua 8:35: “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.” We also read in Ezra about a very important revival that occurred: “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore” (Ezras 10:1).

We often hear congregants argue that young children should be separated out from the regular worship service due to their propensity for disruption and their inability to learn from the regular preaching of the word. However, in Mark 10:13-16, Jesus sets us straight on how we should deal with children in the worship service: “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

Notice how Jesus dealt with children who were brought to worship: He embraced them, and blessed them! Beloved friends, there’s never a good reason to segregate your children out from your family as you worship. Certainly, it can be appropriate to take a crying baby outside from time to time; however, it is NOT appropriate to make it a practice to leave the children to themselves! Children need to be with parents to learn how to sit still and learn from the preaching, and so that the parents can make sure that the children are being taught sound doctrine.

Finally, there is NO PLACE in the church for cliques! In his instructions to Timothy, Paul makes this clear: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21). The Apostle James further elaborates: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4). Respect of persons is forbidden in the Bible!

Ultimately, love drives all of our fellowship. If we love one another, we will want to be with one another. If we love ALL the brethren, we will want to assemble together with ALL of them – young, old, rich, poor, single, divorced, married – it doesn’t matter! ALL of our brethren and sister are God’s children, and cliques and other forms of segregation will be put away.

May the Lord bless us to maintain the proper type of fellowship in His Kingdom.

In Christ,

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor