We live in turbulent times. In my 30+ years with the EFC, I don’t recall such a potent confluence of issues and challenges as those we currently face, as a country and as the Church.
I wrote previously about the deepening unsettledness many feel in contrast to the certainty we find in the gospel that enfolds us into the fellowship of the Body of Christ.
It is in the fellowship of believers we find resilience. Challenges always tempt us to withdraw or go into isolation, but these are not effective ways to get through a battle or life challenge. We need fellowship.
The Apostle Paul calls us to persevere, not to turn others away when in need or when they need us. We are to "never grow weary of doing good" (Galatians 6:9).
Reaching out to our neighbour in love is how we emulate God who has reached out to love us (Matthew 22:37–39). We are inspired to do so by the welcoming promise of the ever-present "great light" of God’s fellowship with us (Isaiah 9:2). As the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" reminds us, "There is no shadow of turning with Thee."
Our call to fellowship in the Body of Christ is a call to engagement, not withdrawal, unity, not fragmentation or division, collaboration, not isolation, contribution to understandings, not confusion, to comprehend the signs of the times and not be paralyzed.
Our call to fellowship in the Body of Christ is a call to engagement, not withdrawal, unity, not fragmentation.
Engagement like this manifests what the Kingdom of God is like. We find our true identity, belonging and significance in fellowship as we walk together in the light of Christ’s lordship (John 8:12, 12:35–36).
In His darkest hour on the cross, Christ appealed to the principles of fellowship. His charge was to adopt one another (John 19:26). Those born again in Him are brought into God’s family with a secure bond, one full of the promise of true fellowship.
Being the Body of Christ is what God intends for His people. This fellowship is the embodiment of human fulfillment. It is what we are designed for – to give and receive fellowship.
Outside this there is no peace. Those who have not experienced what it means to be part of the Body of Christ will seek to find it through imitation. They may seek fulfillment, flourishing and belonging in an identity, community, people, cause, nation or ideology. Illusions beckon so many away from the true belonging, purpose and hope found in the transforming power of the resurrected Christ. Substitutes will never satisfy.
Political and social polarizations are expressions of individual autonomy, pursuing unfulfilling substitutes to satisfy the deep longings of fellowship, but without Christ as Saviour and Lord – a most painful and dark ambiguity.
When truth supersedes the lies and deceits of generations, when biblical principles guide, humans grow and thrive individually be cause of life-giving, God-honouring fellowship. We do not need to cling to false doctrines or ideologies.
We get a glimpse of the coming Kingdom in the deep fellowship of being citizens together in God’s Kingdom. And when we get this priority right, most of the things that cause division fade.
We already experience some of this peace now when the Body of Christ is on task and in motion.
Our public engagement as members of the Body of Christ bears witness to God’s intention for humanity. As members of the Body of Christ, we live in anticipation of the full presence of God’s Kingdom when "righteousness and peace will embrace" (Psalm 85:10 CSB).
We already experience some of this peace now when the Body of Christ is on task and in motion, embracing the promise and vision of the coming Kingdom, grounded on the work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection, when we make Him Lord of our lives, our light and guide. Petty things don’t matter or stick because we will no longer live in the darkness, ignorance and pride that divides.
It is to this end the prophets appealed and to which Christ identified His ministry in Luke 4:18–19 (quoting Isaiah 61:1) – living a life of anticipation of the reign of God in its fullness on earth as it is in heaven, a fellowship that in the power of the Spirit meets immediate needs, breaks down barriers, heals the brokenhearted and sets captives free.
Bruce J. Clemenger is president of the EFC. Effective Jan. 31, 2023, he will become its senior ambassador and president emeritus. Please pray for our work and support us at TheEFC.ca/Donate or toll-free 1-866-302-3362. Photo of coworkers from rawpixel.com.
Author: Bruce J. Clemenger