Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Blessings and Benefits of Fellowship

Well folks, here I am again. It has been a while but, then again, I told you it probably would be.
But as my lovely wife and I prepare to attend yet another National Baptist Convention I was led to share some of my thoughts on the blessings and benefits of true fellowship (the koinonia kind). Now, understand that we have been attending National Conventions for quite some time now, in fact, since we were young (very young) adults. We now have three adult sons and a host of grandchildren including one who is now a freshman in college, so, to the say the very least, we have seen a lot of conventions in our day. Not to mention the number of miles traveled, hotel rooms occupied, classes attended, and, yes, money spent.
I guess that maybe the real and true reason I might have been led to write this blog is to "get some things off my chest." I love this about blogging. I mean, since it is your blog, you can sort of jump on any subject you like. You don't have to be deep or even politically correct because you know you are among friends who will allow you to, so to speak, blow off some steam.
I have heard in conversation on more than one occasion the statement "Doc, I am not going to spend all that money and travel all those miles just for some fellowship." I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who has heard this one.
Now, the tenor and tone of the statement sort of indicates that there is something inherently wrong with or wasteful about fellowship. In other words the statement seems to be saying in effect, "if fellowship is all I'm going to get then it is not worth my time." Well, I know I am going to bust somebodies bubble and even rub some folks the wrong way (remember now, it's my blog), but the question I have is, exactly what is wrong with wholesome, spiritual fellowship? Does it have no value? Is it a waste of time? Is it not worth investing in? As for me, I truly believe that there are numerous blessings and benefits which can be and often are received simply and directly from fellowship alone. I can truthfully say that God has blessed me to attend some powerful, enlightening and helpful conferences, seminars, workshops, etc. and these have helped me more than words could ever express. But, and I am serious about this, some of the best, richest, and most powerful lessons that I have learned have been gleaned during periods of, (you got it right) fellowship. I am not making this up folks. When I look back over my life I have to honestly confess that God has used so many of these moments of fellowship with other preachers, pastors and believers to teach me some of the most valuable lessons that I have ever learned.
I have sat in the college classroom and have even had the privilege of helping to train and shape young minds while teaching in the seminary classroom, I have sat in corporate and executive board rooms and assisted in making literally million dollar decisions but, I repeat, some of the most powerful and lasting lessons that I have been blessed to learn were not in the classroom, not in the lecture hall, not in the workshop, not in the board room and not in the conference or seminar but during times of fellowship. Now, I must confess that I have been blessed to sit at the feet of and be in fellowship with some of the greatest preacher/pastor's this world has ever known but I have also been blessed to sit in fellowship with preacher/pastor's and other Christian believers who, in most circles, would be counted among the nameless or insignificant but, oh!, the lessons they shared and, oh!, the richness that flowed from their hearts and lips, trust me, words cannot describe the blessings and benefits of them all. I thank God for each and every one of them. From Chicago, IL. to Seguin, TX., from Los Angeles, CA to Bryan, TX and hundreds of places in between, the wisdom and sharing during moments of "fellowship" have been and continue to be "priceless."
This may have been what John was trying to convey when he said "we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren...." Wow! What a testimony! Now tell me folks, how much is that kind of fellowship worth?
As usual, I am guilty of making this far too long but, hey, that's right, it is my blog :). But as I "prepare to close" L O L (help me brother preachers) let me make it crystal clear that when I say fellowship I am talking about real, spirit led, and spirit filled fellowship. You know, the kind you have when excited and sincere people of God get together. I am not, I repeat, am not, talking about mere social activity. Listen, you can have an abundance of social activity and not have a single ounce of true fellowship. When I say fellowship I am talking about the Acts 2:42 kind of fellowship. These people, these New Testament Christians, the word says, "devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." It is clear that true "fellowship" is not simply "breaking bread".
Well, I guess I have rambled on long enough but to use the term of a dear fellow pastor and friend of mine "I feel better." God is good and I thank Him for the privilege of fellowship.
And, once again, as Sister Pullam and I launch out on yet another journey into the sphere of the National Baptist Convention I thank God in advance for the blessings and benefits we are going to receive not just from the meeting itself, not just from the powerful sermons we will hear, not just from seeing friends, but also from the FELLOWSHIP! God bless you all.
By the tie of Calvary,
Pastor W.L. Pullam