Our fellowship with one another or together is as a consequence of our first or primary fellowship with God through Christ by the Holy Spirit. This sequence is ordained by God because He seeks to accomplish in our fellowship one with another that which is impossible without Christ. In other words, there is a fellowship with one another that is achievable without Christ Jesus.
So, a fine relationship or fellowship can exist between friends, marriages, parents and children, unions, communities, religions and countries without it being the kind God seeks or the type that Jesus Christ prayed to His Father about on behalf of His body on the earth in John 17. It is insightful that He prayed to this effect before He returned to His former glory which He laid down in order to found His Kingdom in the earth.
It remains a fact that through leadership skills, rules and regulations, justices, fear of the consequences of breaching governmental laws, zeal to attain ambitions etc the world may have fellowship or live in harmony (the tower of Babel comes to mind Genesis 11).
The saints are exhorted in the bible to pray ‘for kings and those in authority—so that we may live harmonious lives’ 1 Timothy 2:2. God’s intention through the prayers is to save those who have not received His Son, Christ Jesus—the only way to eternal life. The “harmonious living” which some people who reject and mock the return of Christ may enjoy differs from the “peaceful lives” marked by a pure and blameless call on the body of Christ 2 Peter 3: 3, 14.
The importance of the above is this; we who claim to be born again by and into the Spirit of Christ need to soberly examine what we are fervently building as fellowship on the earth today. We need to see through the eyes of the scriptures by the Holy Spirit if indeed we’re part of and participating as precious stones in the ongoing temple Christ is building through His ceaseless intercession in heaven Matthew 16:18, Romans 8:34.
What about the churches— that is, the gatherings, assemblies or fellowships of those professing Christ? Though this may alarm many people, the truth is that the churches are not the body of Christ. Please calm down! Read on and judge what is written by scriptures like the Bereans Acts 17:11.
The ekklesia popularly referenced as the Church or saints not churches is the body of Christ Ephesians 1:1, 22-23. In I Corinthians 11:16 Paul said, “…nor do the churches of God”. Here, the word is not just churches but the “churches of God”.
To understand Paul’s usage of the term “churches of God”, we have to read 1 Corinthians 11: 17-19 in which he indicates that he was writing to the church. It is on this ground that what Paul wrote then is seen as written also to all believers in all of the church ages which includes us today.
Without neglecting to be contextual, we also notice that in mentioning their specific bad manners with regards to the Lord’s Table and the factiousness, Paul was addressing it as a thing that will keep authenticating “the church” as different from those just professing Christ within the Churches.
In 1 Corinthians 11:22, Paul uses the term “the Church of God” as referring to Christ’s body. And scriptures clearly state that the body of Christ is one though made up of many individual parts not corporate parts 1 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 6:11.
The emphasis being; in the churches scattered all over the world, individuals within each of the churches that have received and are abiding in the Spirit of Christ, form His one body as lively stones being built up as one spiritual temple 1 Peter 2:5. So, Christ’s body does not have types e.g., evangelical, charismatic, reformed, multicultural, institutional or house churches etc.
Truly, no one has ever been or will ever be a part of the body of Christ because they belong to any of the churches no matter how well the churches presume to fair in Christ.
Paul the apostle therefore says, “But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!” 1 Corinthians 11:18-20. That is, “you” (who are part of His body) approved of God as genuine may be manifest—a manifestation which even creation longs to know—that is, His body, the sons of God or the “church” (not churches) of the living God Romans 8:19, 1 Timothy 3:15.
God has but one church or body of which there are no grades! Her individual parts are functioning differently for one purpose and one crown not many crowns. Each individual receives a crown equal in every way as it fulfils that which God had assigned Matthew 20.
While the individual parts that constitute the “one church” Ephesians 4:4 are still clothed with mortal bodies, our comprehension of crown and rewards is affected Ephesians 1:18. The perception of a lesser crown is mere thinking. Because all the crowns constitute one crown, no one will regret not doing enough that could have enabled them receive a better or more glorious crown. Christ is the reward awaiting the saints in all her sufferings! Hopefully, that means more than enough for us!
Let’s beware of the mentality of the elder brother of the repented prodigal son. Matthew 25:30 sheds spiritual light on Matthew 25: 24-29, indicating that the talent is not skills but the redemption (Christ) God has given to us.
Think about it, God will not throw anyone into outer darkness because he or she did not use their skills. Unequivocally, the passage is actually speaking about the foolishness of burying, trampling under feet or crucifying Christ the second time Hebrews 6:6, 10:29.
The incentive to continue to abide in Christ, in His commandments by faith working through grace in our inner most being is not to get a better crown but to be redeemed to the utmost. This is the reason to submit to God, one another and resist the devil. It is not to win applause in heaven and receive a more superior crown than the others who are also redeemed.
The prize, reward or crown is Christ Jesus whom we have and will have!! For His sake and through Him, we are to continue laying down our lives that His glorious life might crown His temple for all eternity 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10, 3:11 “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”.
Notice! We already have the crown. Treasure Him that no man seduce or lead you away from Him 2 Corinthians 11:3.
Rather, through Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power we are to individually grow in our fellowship with God and one another or together in the one faith, love and hope. At the consummation of all things, God himself shall be our exceeding reward Genesis 15:1NIV.