Hindrances to Walking in True Fellowship

Photo taken by Michael Clark

Yesterday my wife and I went to Texas to attend a wedding and reception. Our grandson married a lovely girl whose family are not of the Baptist traditions he was raised in (those traditions are very strong down here in what is called “The Bible Belt” of America).  We found the less formal reception put on by the bride’s family quite fun and we all had a good time. They had country music, line dancing, and even served real wine and beer. In some of the more hard-line Baptist and fundamentalist circles this would be considered a scandal. Not everyone danced or drank alcoholic beverages, but it was good to see most of my family down here “get loose” and have a great time.

This morning I woke up and prayed and read my latest T. Austin-Sparks “Open Windows” devotional and there it was. He wrote about how religious people are so quick to judge others when they dare to do anything outside of their religious traditions and what they consider “acceptable.” In this article I read about many cases where God’s men in the Bible were called to do that very thing. Imagine the scandal it would cause if Jesus was invited to a traditional fundamentalist or “Bible church” fellowship gathering and He went into the church kitchen, turned 150 gallons of water into wine and had it served to all the guests! Or what a scandal it would have been if He took up residence with a Gentile widow for three years just as Elijah had done. God commanded Peter to kill and eat all manner of “unclean” animals and birds in a vision, so signifying that if He had sanctified these new Gentile believers in Christ, who was Peter to say otherwise and isolate himself from having true fellowship with them in their homes? Sparks wrote,

If the children of God will only make Christ their ground of fellowship, so much that hinders spiritual fullness and accounts for the present weakness, limitation, and defeat will be ruled out, and the great hinderer will be despoiled of his ground.

Then there is another direction in which this law of fullness operates and in which some serious adjustment is necessary. It is that of leaving room for the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. It was on this very matter that the book of “The Acts” was founded. The Lord Jesus enunciated the [this] law when He said to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth… so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” On the day of Pentecost there was “a sound as of a mighty rushing wind.” Have you ever been in a really mighty rushing wind? The thing about a real windstorm is that it takes the government out of all other hands and proceeds to do as it chooses without reference or deference to conventions, traditions, common acceptances, inclinations, or fixed ideas. While it lasts, it is sovereign. That is how it was then; but there were those who were offended, shocked, scandalized, and who said in effect that such a way could never be of God. (1)

Anyone who walks in the Light as Jesus is in the Light will soon find themselves challenged by Him to break free of preconceived ideas of what is acceptable to God and pulled out of the traditions of men and family into His marvelous fellowship with the true saints of God. Growing in Christ truly is a stretching process. Look at the context of this passage:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:7, ESV2011)

To walk in the light of God is a progressive thing. The light we start out with is not the same amount of light we receive later on as we progress in that walk.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (Prov 4:18, ESV2011)

God is all about growing us up into the fullness of His Son and this requires that we break free of the traditions that bind religious minds from following His Spirit in obedience and accepting those whom He has sanctified by the blood of His Son. T. A. Sparks continued,

For instance, there is the matter of our relationship to, and fellowship with, all other children of God. Fellowship with the Lord’s people is an established law of spiritual fullness, and there can be no fullness apart from it. This question of Christian fellowship will have to be taken in both hands and settled finally. We shall – if we are going to have an “open heaven” – have to sit right down with this matter and do some honest and energetic thinking and deciding. What is the Lord’s ground in this matter? It is absolutely nothing other, more, nor less, than Christ Himself and our common sharing of His life through new birth and utter yieldedness to Him as our Sovereign Head and Lord! Get down on to any other ground and we forsake the place of fullness. If we get on to the ground of a teaching, an interpretation, a particular and specific doctrine, or even emphasis, as something in itself, we at once set up standards or draw lines between ourselves and others, and even unconsciously we divide and give out an implication of division.

Or again; if we get on the ground of a denomination, a sect, a mission, a society, a “movement”, or anything crystallized as to an association of the Lord’s people, with an enterprise binding together those concerned – though it may be for the Lord – we open the door to every divisive thing, and we close it to fulness. On the one hand we very soon become governed by false and unsound judgments. Jealousies and rivalries can never see the light of day if the one concern is the Lord. (1)

Regarding the verse in 1st John above, notice that “walking in the light as HE is in the light” is progressive. The verse ends with “…we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” When we set out to have fellowship, when it is God who has made us members of one another, there has been given us the provision of Christ’s blood which cleanses us of all sin, including those which may occur during our God given walks together.

We have a great-grandson who will be one year old today. He can only take a few steps before he falls. He still finds crawling faster and his speech is not well developed yet. But for a one year old child he is perfect. If he still fell a lot while walking and grunted and yelled loudly without words when wanting something at the age of five he would be considered handicapped. In the same way, the perfection of walking in the light as Christ is in the light includes life which is given us by God and as such it grows. If we judge one another for not being fully perfect in our walk and being fully Christ-like, we do one another a great disservice and will hinder and harm the fellowship we could be having with the saints of God. Rather, we should be praying for one another and not receiving each other “unto doubtful disputations.”(2)  Self-righteousness is a poison that kills true fellowship IN Christ. Remember Paul’s warning,

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom 14:4, ESV2011)

Thank you Father that you are able and willing by the blood of Christ and your Spirit to make us stand in your Son and thank you for the sweet fellowship you have given us as we abide together in Him. Amen.

 

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000521.html

(2) Romans 14:1

17 comments on “Hindrances to Walking in True Fellowship

  1. Michael, this is an enlightening post to read. Your article has been animated by your vivid descriptions and by this beautiful pic of deer on here, too. ⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Susanne.
      Writing from personal experience seems to shed more light than when we don’t, wouldn’t you say?

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are very welcome, Michael. Yes, I know it is true. Nothing is more boring to me than to read what theologians present APART from their personal experiences. Our God is no theory. He is LIFE and gives life to everyone who asks.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Soooooooo true Susanne. It is a case of eating of the Tree of Life vs. the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.👍😇💞😇

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amen, Michael. Well said! ⭐😇🕊❤🕊😇

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, I just found this admonition in Jude that adds to what it means to walk in the fellowship of the Spirit in the freedom we have IN Christ…

        “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21, ESV2011)

        Yes, HE is able to make us stand! “Judge not and you will not be judged,” To live this way in His love is part of what it means to “wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which leads to eternal life.” I know that except for the grace and mercy of Christ working in my own life, I would be a legalistic and judgmental fundamentalist, bound up in the law.

        “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Gal 5:13-15, ESV2011)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Patricia W. Orr (Pat) says:

    Thank you for the blog. It was a joy to read what you wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have come across this type of judgment more than once. Though perhaps well-intentioned, such traditions are not by themselves proof of godliness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Anna, so true, I would go so far as to say that the traditions of men are more often the proof of UN-godliness among them! Traditions all started when Eve was convinced to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that would make her “wise” in and of her own self, separate from the wisdom and knowledge of her heavenly Father. Jesus was constantly being judged by the Jews because He did not follow the traditions of their elders and follow all the laws that they added to what Moses taught. Christians are no different. They say, “Thou shalt not dance!” Why? Because they formed a law from the fact that Salome danced before Harod and he rewarded her with the head of John the Baptist. They say, “Thou shalt not drink!” Yet the scriptures do not say that. They say, “And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph 5:18, KJ2000) These same people that would judge you for having a glass of wine with a meal ignore the more important admonition in that verse, “but be filled with the Spirit.” Jesus chided the Pharisees and Saducees about the adverse effect of following traditions saying,

      “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13, ESV2011)

      Yes, dear Anna, the traditions of men go against the spirit of the law and they definitely counter the leading of the Spirit more often than not.

      For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, WHO WALK not according to the flesh [fleshly law keeping] but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT. (Rom 8:3-4, ESV2011)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Tobie says:

    Double like. Thanks Michael. I love the way you bring Prov 4:18 together with John 1. It’s amazing that Life’s standard is where we’re at, as opposed to the standard of law that disregards the principle of growth. I always think of Paul’s words to the Philippians – “let us only live up to what we have attained.” What a glorious liberty to just be true to the demands of my spiritual age and understanding for today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Tobie. Good to hear from you again. By HIS grace all the way, His life maturing in us is our only hope and salvation.

      “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:10, ESV2011)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    Speaking of experience I just had that happen to me recently.I put in hundreds of job applications all over the country and the one that jumped up and grabbed me was in a place called Thackerville,OK—What is this? I got a job working in a resort hotel that is linked to a casino.So I asked Father—Is this your leading? I was commuting fifty miles one way every day and they had brand new apartments right next to the hotel/casino.But there was a long wait period to get into one.So one day I was getting ready to do my 50 mile trip home after work when Papa urged me to go check on availalability.I walked into the office and the lady said are you Kenneth Dawson?
    I said yes–Who are you? She said I AM the leasing lady and I just had an apartment open up and here you show up—Do you want it? As we were doing the paperwork she said Boy some one is looking out for you!
    So no matter what others think of me working in a hotel that caters to gamblers—This is where Dad put me.

    Liked by 1 person

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