|Volume 22 Number 2 February 2020||
Gary C. Hampton
What is the worst of foes that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life’s page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
~ Lord Byron
Widows and widowers rank high among the people for whom I pray regularly. I can see their eyes light up when they speak of a departed mate. I also seem to see the hurt of loneliness. I cannot tell them I know how they feel, but I can point them to Psalm 139.
The singer of Israel, likely David, realized God is present everywhere. He expressed this by asking two rhetorical questions. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (139:7). He confidently answered, “If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me” (139:9-10).
Jesus knew the Father was always with Him. “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32). He expressed it on the cross in his dying moments. “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’” (Luke 23:46). The Father did not leave his soul in Hades, but raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:31-32).
Jesus delivered the Great Commission immediately before ascending into Heaven. He followed those instructions with a great promise, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The writer to the Hebrew Christians declared, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Loneliness brings darkness into many lives. God’s children can overcome it because they are not walking life’s path alone.
Are We Devoted to the Fellowship?
Luke summarized the first church of Christ, established in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). The term, “continued steadfastly” means to be devoted (Acts 1:14; 2:46; 6:4; Romans 12:12). There are four specific things, all spiritual in nature, to which these early Christians were devoted. In this article, we will examine the second of these. They were devoted to “fellowship.” The word “fellowship” refers to association, communion, joint participation and sharing together. The fellowship in which the early church continued was their joint participation in the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:9). The implied object of their fellowship is God (1 John 1:3, 7). Included in this sense of fellowship were concrete expressions of that joint participation and sharing (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35). One great example is the collection Paul took among the Gentile churches to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The Greek word koinonia, usually translated “fellowship,” in those contexts is translated “contribution” (Romans 15:26) and “sharing” [“distribution,” KJV] (2 Corinthians 9:13). Fellowship must be important in our lives as well. No congregation can follow God without seeking and maintaining true fellowship (Ephesians 4:1-3). Christians should seek other Christians for encouragement and support. This is why assembling together is so important (Hebrews 10:23-25). How devoted are we to “fellowship”?