Authentic Fellowship: Connection and Conversation
Why do we crave fellowship? Why do we seek connection and conversation with like-minded friends? And, why is authentic fellowship so important?
Well, my friends, we were created for fellowship and connection. Hebrew 10:24-25 (NIV) tells us,
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
When we gather together in fellowship, we have the opportunity to encourage and support one another in love. We connect with another person who gets us and understands what we are going through or recognizes our current situation because they, too, have been there.
Fellowship offers us a chance to build friendships based on shared interests. It’s a moment when we realize we are not alone.
Oddly enough, I recently read that we are the most connected society ever, although a majority of women share that they are extremely lonely. Findings from a Barna Study (Lysa TerKeurst) showed that women felt connected to so many people yet still felt lonely. These women also communicated the feeling of being left out or missing out after spending time on social media. Can you relate?
I get it. We spend so much time connecting via the internet and scrolling through others’ lives we lose touch with what’s real and what’s staged. We also forget the importance of face-to-face conversation and connection. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing, right?
Unplug to Plug-in
What if we unplugged for one day to plug into our relationships face-to-face? What would that look like to you? You know, those moments where you’ve felt the need to unplug from the world, the noise, and the chatter in order to enjoy connection and conversation with your friends?
Maybe you thrive on the connection of being plugged in, so when you do unplug, you find yourself feeling isolated or removed from those around you. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) sets in, and you quickly plug back into the online world in hopes you haven’t lost any followers or missed out on a particular comment or newsworthy update. But, where does that leave you?
Your intention to unplug was to recharge and spend time in reflection, to take a moment to be present. Taking time out for a mental break affords you the opportunity to plug into God.
Placing a priority on stillness and silence is important to our spiritual growth. Intentionally seeking time with God fills our minds with His word and His promises, which protects us from negativity and spiritual warfare. He is our refuge.
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30 (NIV)
Did you know the enemy seeks opportunities to infiltrate our thoughts and minds? The enemy loves social platforms. There are 3.196 billion social media users in the world. That’s a lot of noise and an enormous opportunity for the enemy to fill our minds with corrupt messages. If our foundation is not built on solid ground – God’s Word, the enemy can (and will) invade. Being mindful (watchful) of these things will protect us from those invading thoughts.
This is also true for face-to-face connections. Take a moment and reflect on your recent get-togethers. Do you recall your feelings as you spent time in the company of your friends? Were you encouraged, inspired, and motivated? Or, did you feel lost, uneasy, or confused?
I’ve been in situations where an uneasy feeling came over me as I hung out with friends or participated in an event. I can’t exactly explain the feeling, but I do know the moment I stepped away from the group or event, the uneasiness left me.
There was just something about the association that wasn’t quite right, and the uneasiness was a warning, a check in my Spirit. Perhaps it was due to an unkind remark or negative conversation. Or maybe there was nothing noticeably unusual, but the uneasiness was a forewarning to hold me accountable. Whatever the reason, I knew in my heart it was not a healthy gathering for me, and the enemy could use the opportunity to strike!
On the other hand, I’ve spent time with friends knowing the time was well spent because of the encouragement I received. Why? Because these sisters-in-Christ lifted me up. These women “sistered” me. They spoke words of encouragement over me. They poured love into me. And, most importantly, they reflected God’s light, which is such a blessing for my spiritual growth and discipleship.
Their support and encouragement reflected the significance of authentic fellowship and connection – meeting together and encouraging one another toward love and good deeds.
What is Fellowship?
Fellowship can be as simple as coffee and conversation, Bible study, or an evening walk. No need for a big event, photos of every moment, or texting your location. It’s just a quiet time of conversation and connection – the friendly association of two or more people who share a common bond and enjoy deeper dialogue.
What Fellowship is Not!
It is not about creating followers, a photo op, or seeking a newsworthy story for your social media. Not to discourage you, but if we want deeper connections and authentic relationships, we need to be present and attentive. We need to unplug, turn off our phones, and be present. We need to place a priority on our relationships. And, most importantly, we need to build our relationships on the foundation of Christ.
As mentioned earlier, we are the most connected society in history, and based on the research, we are the loneliest society. I believe we need to rethink connection and connectivity. I believe we need to reach out and spend time in the presence of one another in an effort to build genuine relationships.
My Prayer for You
How are your relationships? Are you struggling with loneliness? Are you feeling left out? Are you seeking connection? I hope you know that you are not alone and there is hope.
My prayer for you is that you find comfort and solace in God’s Word. I encourage you to be intentional and spend time reading through scripture and praying through the scriptures. When your feelings begin to overwhelm you, or you feel lonely, dig deep into God’s word. Read your Bible, spend time in prayer, and reach out to a sister-in-Christ. And, please know I am here to connect with you!
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV