When people are in love, they talk a lot. They have no time to do anything else but talk, talk, and talk some more. Most of the time, when they talk, I am pretty sure they are just chattering away. Nothing of what they say is that serious, except the voice of their beloved. It doesn’t matter how much the other makes sense; it is still beautiful.
Every church I have been to, have a time of fellowship, a coffee hour, a time to catch up with life. Everyone knows each other, and then they want to talk about it what they know. Sharing with another what is going on is vital to building a relationship. Fellowship times do that.
In the Episcopal church, once I was part of, we had three ‘worship services’ called Rite I, Rite II, and Rite III. The Rite III was the fellowship hour, as important as the Rite I and Rite II. Being with another person through life was as important as the other, if not more.
As relationships mature, there may not be much talk but a calming presence. A silence envelops relationships. But this silence is not be deafening but restful. It softens emotions and feelings. Silence makes the presence of the other uplifting and encouraging.
One of the churches I pastored has a program called Neighbors Table. It is a program that provided food for the hungry on Saturdays. It did not matter what your financial status is; you are welcome to join at the meals and create a community with those sitting around you. There were many other churches in that community that provided a free meal for anyone who wanted it, but Neighbors Table was known for the fellowship of love. Neighbors’ Table provided an opportunity to share life as it happened rather than spend time praying, talking about God, and being churchy because it was in a church. People came not necessarily for food, but for company, conversation, and compassion.
We all crave for attention. We all want someone to talk to. Just as much as we want someone to talk to us, we also want someone to listen to. It is a deep longing within that we may not recognize. A beautiful relationship is built up only by this reciprocal activity of talking and listening. Eating together, eating with, and sharing the table with another gives us a sense of security and sacredness. God becomes part of our daily life when we eat together and laugh together. So, fellowship can be any of these.
Eating with another is fellowship.
Laughing with another is fellowship.
Praying with another is fellowship.
Suffering with another is fellowship.
Chilling out with another is fellowship.
Just being you with another is fellowship.
God longs for these moments, and just as much as God does, we do too. We may not know it. But deep within, we long for God just like the deer that longs for water. The faster we recognize it, the better. The sooner we drink of the water, we won’t be dehydrated of God.
When Abraham fell on his face when he met God, God promised him a life that was blessed. God and Abraham visited with each other and shared a future that was unknown to Abraham. God spoke, and Abraham listened. God made a covenant, promised a child, provided a nation, and a destiny greater than Abraham could have imagined. Because they came together to talk. (Genesis 17:3)
Moses went up the mountain to speak to God. God was waiting for him on top of the mountain. Then God told Moses the things the people of Israel had forgotten. He tells them how He bore them on eagles wings. God provided a bird’s eye view of his plan for His people. They were His treasure. He had a plan to make them priestly and holy. All of this secret plan of God was revealed to Moses because Moses spent a few days and nights alone with God on the mountain. (Exodus 19:3-6)
Looking at God straight is not a good idea, according to Moses. He did not come up with this line of deep awe for God, but God reportedly shared it with Moses. He didn’t know we would die if we looked at God’s face. (Exodus 19:20) This kind of information is what I am talking about when we talk with one another; we learn. We learn things we didn’t know. That happens with God as much as it happens with a man. So the people stood at a distance. (Exodus 20:21) They gave the privacy needed for two friends to talk, to share, and to warn those who were listening to them.
We learn about the other by listening to the other. Not by imagining what we want to. We have to engage in conversation: two-way communication. The conversation is not a monologue. It is you and I, God and you, husband and wife, friend and friend, pastor and the flock, the director, and the directed.
The fellowship is a two-way street.
You talk, and I listen.
I talk, and you listen.
God talks, and I listen.
I talk, and God listens.
Sometimes in doing so, we have to climb the mountains and sometimes come down to the valley. The fellowship is a two-lane road with a narrow divider. Sometimes the divider is a thick concrete four-foot-wide flower bed, and at other times, it is a dotted yellow line in the middle. When it is well defined, it is hard to cross to the other side, and when it dotted line, we can go in and out of the other lane. Conversations require this kind of clarity and fluidity to make it into a beautiful relationship.
This is what the Lord God does when He tells Moses that people should not look at his face, lest they die; it is a hard and fast rule. That is what happens when he gives the ten commandments. It is a very clear direction without any room for much interpretation and crossing over. When it is with God that we are talking, there is no crossing over to interrupt of give our opinion about it.
Jonah tried that and didn’t go too far with his interruption. He told the Lord that it is not a good idea not to punish the people of Nineveh. He was upset because the Lord didn’t actually follow through what they talked about, namely punish the sinners. He pouted and kept away from God. But the Lord gave him some shade from the scorching sun. But then the Lord made a little worm to eat the plant and put him out in the hot sun. Jonah was upset about what the Lord was doing to him, putting him out for a heat stroke! But the Lord made his point through it and got Jonah’s attention. Conversation with God helped. Jonah knew why wouldn’t God destroy the people and the animals in the kingdom. He cared for them. His desire was not to destroy them but to change their hearts and wrongful living. (Jonah 4: 5-7)
Conversation with God helps.
But between men, we cross the dotted yellow line in the middle all the time. We interrupt, and we interject out ideas and thoughts into others. We argue and fight over things that sometimes are the same. If we listened carefully, maybe we could keep to our lanes and empower the other.
I sometimes do not listen to what my wife says. After a long back and forth talk, I have, and she has realized that we talked the same thing. But from different viewpoints and many times from the same viewpoints. If we paid attention, to begin with, we wouldn’t have to waste so much of our time proving our point.
Here is something for us to think about.
When God calls, we go.
God invited Moses to the mountain to talk. (Exo: 19:20)
God invited Moses to a tent to talk to. (Lev 1:1)
God invited Aaron and Miriam to talk. (Num 12:8)
God invited Ezekiel into the valley to talk. (Eze: 3:22)
God invited the people near the mountain. (Exo 20:21)
God likes to talk to people face to face. He was not much interested in talking through signs just as much as directly. Meeting and talking was His way of communicating. He didn’t hide from those whom he talked to.
He talked face to face with Abraham
He talked face to face with Moses.
He talked face to face with Job in his tent.
He makes a covenant with those whom he talks.
He calls them His friends.
What is beautiful about the relationship with God is it is real, personal, and present all the time. It is promising. God is a friend, and therefore he wants to talk to you.
Divine fellowship is what we are all looking for in our lives. We long for someone to spend time with us and talk to us.
When you go into a nursing home, that is what you will find. People are waiting there to talk to someone.
When you visit an orphanage, you find children waiting to talk to you and be seen.
When you genuinely love someone, that is what happens. They wait with a longing to see you and be in your space.
Their voice, their heart, and their energy are in yours. You interact with their emotions, feelings, and experiences. That is what God is longing for. The Lord strolled in the garden of Eden, looking for Adam and Eve. God was looking for a friend to talk to.
Be a friend to God. Don’t be a stranger.
Divine fellowship is worth pursuing,