One of the reasons why I love the South is because of the hospitality they show you while you’re there. With everyone you encounter (family members not included – that’s a given!), you are treated with the utmost love and respect, and on top of that, they love to feed you! Everywhere I go in the South, I am accompanied by a nice, big plate of food. Southern hospitality. Whoever coined this term hit it right on the money.
This is similar to how it should be within the church community. In fact, it should be on an entirely different level. We are one in the Body of Christ, and amongst the body of believers, we love selflessly, we give wholeheartedly, we sacrifice unrelentingly, we serve graciously, and we work conscientiously for the glory of the Lord.
Believers should not neglect to meet – exhorting one another as the time draws near – and we should not just be meeting within the church building, but also outside of the church. In our homes, during trips to the grocery store, while we are picking up the kids at school, as we cook and prepare a feast for guests – this is where we can best teach, equip, nurture, train, and disciple one another within the Body of Christ. We are able to see each other front and center; real-life interaction is not only possible but realized – and without pretense or deceit.
Within our house church communities, we are able to give people the reality of us from the beginning. The same is true within the corporate church community. No dissimulation. The world likes to say: “If they’re meant to love you, they will. Regardless of what they see.” Within the church, loving one another is not a suggestion. It is a mandate. We are to love. Period. And we are created to love in any and every circumstance.
Fellowship is any activity that consists of a group of people gathering, meeting, and collaborating together (to enjoy one another’s company and presence) in order to grow, encourage, edify, pray, minister to one another, and love on each other. Friendship is developed the more that fellowship takes place. And food is just an extra bonus in the equation! Just like with Jesus! Our fellowship and communion with Him is what brings us into a closer friendship and relationship with Him. The more we are in His presence, the more we benefit from His Spirit. And as we abide in Him and feast on Him through the Word of God, we are filled. We are satisfied. Satisfied in Christ. This is the goal! And being in community helps us do this.
But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
And above all things have fervent (love) charity among yourselves: for charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.