Fellowship with God and with one another

Wambel is one of the congregations in the city of Dortmund in Germany. On 30 May 2021 Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider preached about God’s love there and what our response to His love can be like.

“God is love”, it says in 1 John 4: 16, “and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” “God is love” describes His nature, His being, and goes far beyond human love, the Chief Apostle said at the beginning. Love characterises the relationship between God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How is this important for us, the Chief Apostle asked: “The loving God wants to lead human beings into this fellowship. And this is where it gets interesting for us. The loving God tells us: ‘Come! Have fellowship with us, with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

The need for fellowship

This is not just about dwelling with God. And it is not only about living with God in heaven, but continuing to live in fellowship with God. “He has given us of His Spirit. Through Holy Sealing we have received the Holy Spirit, life from God. So we really do have that which is the essence of God, this love. God has given it to us, He has given us His life. This life must develop in us through the care, through the activity of the Holy Spirit.”

Looking forward, the Chief Apostle posed a question: “What will become of it?” and answered it as follows: it is a real need, a necessity, to want to be part of this fellowship.“It is a compelling need and part of our nature.”

  • We want to be with God. We need to hear God, we must speak with Him, we need to experience His nearness, we need to grow towards Him, we simply need this! We can no longer do without Him.
  • We want to do His will, want to do His work, and want Him to be pleased with us.
  • We will not be like God, but we will grow into the image of Jesus Christ. We will then be, like Jesus Christ, a human being perfectly conformed to the will of God.

Seeking fellowship today

The Chief Apostle emphasised in his sermon that there should be no lack of love for one another. If this Spirit really lives within us and develops, we will also be loving. As God is loving, we too will be loving:

  • we love our neighbour and want him to have the same kind of relationship with God and that he has access to this communion with God.
  • we love our neighbour and want to make sure that he receives salvation as well and show him the way to God.
  • we help him, we comfort him, we strengthen him. This is not about us. It is not: I love you, I will do something good for you… It is God who, through me, does something good for you. That is the big difference. I am doing you good so that you can notice and feel and experience that God loves you and is being good to you.

Fellowship with God includes fellowship with one another. “Once we are with God, we not only have fellowship with God, but we will also have fellowship with one another: communion with those who are with God.” This is what the church must prepare for today. This is also the work of the Holy Spirit, the Chief Apostle said. This is all about the congregation, about the church.

Congregational life is important

There is definitely a tendency to self-centredness, the Chief Apostle said. We concentrate on our own well-being, our own thoughts: “But this is not right!” We cannot enter the kingdom of heaven as loners. Fellowship with God is also fellowship with God’s church. “This is what we have to learn today as we prepare for the coming of Jesus. That is why the congregation and congregational life is so important:

  • “in the congregation, in the church, we can learn to overcome our differences.
  • “In the congregation, in congregational life, we can learn to work together, even if we are fundamentally different.
  • “In congregational life we can learn to forgive one another, to reconcile with one another.
  • “In the congregation we can learn to share the joys and sorrows of our neighbour, to comfort him or her, to rejoice with him or her.”

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Peter Johanning
Germany, Chief Apostle, Divine service