Lessons from 2020: Fellowship is Precious
Pondering all the difficulties imposed by pandemic over the previous year, the greatest loss appears to be that of fellowship in public worship. Never have we been more isolated from each other as saints. The separation does teach profound lessons. We can now empathize with the plight of the sick, the elderly and the shut-in. We can identify with the discouraged and weary. We can truly appreciate the blessing of fellowship. Each return to public worship renews our gratitude. We are grateful for the insights of the Bible class teacher and for the opportunity to engage in spiritual discussion. Our hearts soar with the singing of hymns and we may well find tears forming at the reminder of our Savior’s death. Pride swells when we listen to our young men present God’s word with such skill and dedication. Fellowship is indeed precious.
The apostle John was a man of compassion. He was beloved by the Lord and a prolific writer about love. John understood that the most joyous of personal relationships are based on our mutual relationship with the Father and His Son. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life– the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us– that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full (1 John 1:1-4 NKJV).
Whether together or apart, we must preserve our relationship with the Father and His Son to preserve our eternal relationship with each other. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7 NKJV). There is a mutual symbiosis. All parties benefit from the relationship where ultimately both physical and spiritual needs are met. Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV).
Circumstances often frustrate our plans and best intentions. 2020 has indeed taught many lessons with more in store in 2021. We have been reminded that we are not in control, God is! Trials such as these, test and reveal character. We are citizens of heaven and will stand the test by remaining loyal to our King. For the godly, adversity greatly magnifies gratitude for blessings. We may be limited for a while longer but no one, including Satan, can separate us from our Savior. Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:33-39 NKJV).
One day soon these events will only be memories. There will be new challenges to face, new lessons to learn and new blessings to appreciate. Embrace them all with renewed faith and grateful hearts.