God wants close fellowship with each of us. Jesus pictured himself as knocking at our heart’s door, with the hope that we will open it so he can have, as it were, table fellowship with us (Revelation 3:20). But in order for fellowship to occur, there must not only be that other person with whom we fellowship; there must also be that something is which we both find great delight. Lacking some common interest with others, we can experience more intense loneliness in a group than in being off by ourselves.
What interest must we have in common with Christ, then, in order to enjoy fellowship with him? God makes it very clear where his great interest lies. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Eternal who practices gracious kindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for I delight in these things,” says the Lord in Jeremiah 9:23–24. In other words, God delights in the activities that demonstrate his own character. And he wants human beings to join him in delighting in them. When we bank our hope on God’s integrity to keep his promises—his righteousness—then we delight in him, for we always worship what we hope in. And then we have fellowship with God, for we are delighting in exactly what gives him joy.
God greatly desires that we have fellowship with him. Jesus said that the Father seeks for our worship (John 4:24). We know why, when we remember (as the German poet, Goethe, put it) that “a shared joy is a doubled joy.” Jesus himself said that it was more blessed to give than to keep one’s resources to oneself (Acts 20:32). So God craves to have fellowship with us, for thereby he will know the greater joy that comes from sharing with us the delight he has in himself. Indeed, this is what grace is all about, God’s efforts to enable us to enjoy what he enjoys.
Exodus 20:4–5 says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Eternal, your God, am a jealous God.” God is jealous for our love, for he would lose the opportunity to double his joy were we to be so foolish as to think that something or someone was more valuable than God.
Of all the people who have ever lived, no one comes close to being as wonderful as the Jesus about whom we read in the four gospels. So when this same person knocks at our heart’s door, seeking fellowship with us, we will surely want to respond without hesitation to such an invitation. How could we deprive ourselves of fellowship with God, who alone answers the deepest longings of our hearts?
We go on having this fellowship with Jesus as we keep our hearts at rest by relying on his promises. This was brought home to me forcefully in reading Mark 9:19, where Jesus said, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” Here we see how unhappy Jesus becomes when he is near unbelief. When he says to unbelieving people, “How long am I to be with you?” it’s as though he kept looking at his watch, counting the minutes until he could get away from such unpleasant company.
Surely I don’t want Jesus to feel that way about my company. But he will if I allow any sort of unbelief—anxiety, bitterness, jealousy, regret, self-pity, pride, etc.—to persist in my heart. However, as I beat back unbelief through prayer and musing on pertinent Scripture passages, then I go on experiencing “fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
Faith is the key to continued fellowship. Remember how Paul said that Jesus would settle down and dwell in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17).
Daniel P. Fuller
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