|JANUARY 2005||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
Though the word 'Iq«mb va' [Koottayma] is the Malayalam term used as a rendering or paraphrase for the English word 'Fellowship', it is not an exact equivalent of the English word in its meaning, essence or intent. The word 'Fellowship' which connotes close association or joint participation with mutual sharing in common interests, is now very widely used in all communities and it refers to all affiliations which are held in common. In general, fellowship is a state in which we share as fellows, that's as partners, or peers which means a mutual sharing, partnership, joint participation and communion. In Christianity, Fellowship shares a common faith, nature, salvation, mission and relationship. It is the sharing of a common life created by the indwelling Spirit of God.
In the broadest sense, the most extensive Christian fellowship signifies the entire Church of Christ with its all believers. The family of God is comprised of babes, children, youth, young, old, men, women, fathers, mothers, clergies, living, non-living and all the kinds of people. It is also constituted with visible Church building, altar, its Most Holy Place and other perceivable elements. Though the word 'Church' is often used to describe the building and other visible elements, the doctrine of Church fellowship may be applied to the visible and invisible. The doctrine permeates the partnership between God and all believers.
In our apostolic creed we reiterate that we believe in the maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. There are visible and invisible both inside and outside. Beyond the boundaries of our life there is an invisible world, which is imperceptible to our limited vision. We have only the imagination about it. Church is an institution constituted of all visible and invisible.
Not within the worldly knowledge of man, Fellowship is the entity of relationship of the two worlds under the intensive thoughts of God Almighty. Communal unity within boundaries of the Spirit of worship, love or mutual understanding is the basics of fellowship. In the supreme meaning, fellowship is basic factor of the Church.
The church is compared to a building. Jesus Christ is the corner stone of the Church. This magnificent structure is built upon the foundation of the New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets as the pillars of the building. The ultimate faith basics are Apostles and Prophets. Church is withstanding over the nuptial faith and proclamation of Apostles and Prophets. All believers are the member stones of the Church of Christ that is the household of God. In Him we all are joined and knit together for a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit. Christ supports the building by His invincible strength: In whom all the building, fitly framed together to grow unto a holy household of the Lord.
The Church House has an intimate relationship with its constituent stones and also there is intimate relationship within each other. The corner-stone stays inseparably with the building, supports it, unites it, and adorns it. The Church Home will be collapsed if the Corner Stone Jesus Christ is weakened or removed. As the foundation stone is firm and strong, member stones are also firm and strong. All believers, who are the constituent stones, are being united to Christ by faith, and bond among themselves by charity to grow unto a holy household of God.
Christ, the foundation stone of the corner, is a living stone, having eternal life in Himself, and being the spring of all lives. He is living and He is the life-giver. God is the living Father, Who have life in and of Himself and all shall live eternally by Him. The Church of God is a spiritual house.
As the head of our Church fellowship, Jesus assures us; '...because I live, ye shall live also.' (John 14:19) Each of us, who are the member stones, has also got life. As He lives eternally, those that by faith are united to Him shall live also eternally: they shall live spiritually, a divine life in communion with God.
Where there is life, there is growth. It also moves and transfigures. They are dynamic and regenerating. Life in Christ is a growth and all growth demands change and alteration. This house is daily built up, every part of it growing, and matured in every age by the addition of new members. As all the ingredients are lively stones, it makes the spiritual house alive to God by regeneration and the working of the divine Spirit.
Equality plays a vital part in Church fellowship. None of the Apostles were one over the other. All were equal and all had equal status. Jesus Himself called them as brothers and friends. 'And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Be not called Rabbi, neither be ye called Master or Guide, One is your Master, even Christ.' (Mat 23:9) All you are brethren.
What is the real experience in the Church fellowship? Psalmist elucidates it in the Song of degrees: 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' (Psalm 133:1) The doctrine lays down of the happiness of brotherly love in true fellowship, delighting in each other with mutual endearments, and promoting each other’s welfare with mutual services. As the consummation of love is the beatitude of heaven, so the genuineness of love is the earnest of that blessedness. Those that live in fellowship of love and peace shall have the God of love and peace with them always.
[Extract from Address given at St.Gregorios Church, Philadelphia, USA
Original in Malayalam : Transalated By Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]
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LIGHT OF LIFE
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