Vertical Fellowship & Horizontal
I've been thinking about the names mentioned by the Apostle Paul at the end of Titus 3. These are just names to many of us, but to Paul they were brothers in Christ. They were the guys (and in other places, the gals) that he ministered alongside. Paul serves as an example for us. The Christian needs the fellowship that he can only find in the family of God—fellowship exemplified in the life of the Apostle Paul that we see at the end of Titus 3.
In his book, Your Father Loves You, J. I. Packer wrote...
"Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God (1 John 1:3). The person who is not in fellowship with the Father and the Son is no Christian at all, and so cannot share with Christians the realities of their fellowship."
The Christian exists in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. That's the vertical fellowship that Packer spoke of. But the Christian also exists in relationship with all his brothers and sisters in Christ. The Christian needs (and has not choice but to be in) relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ. That's the horizontal fellowship.
If you are able but are choosing not to fellowship with any brothers and sisters in Christ, could it be that you've wandered from or perhaps have never known fellowship with God? One leads to the other. If you're in fellowship with God, you will be in fellowship with his people.
How do we begin to fellowship with God?
I don't want to assume that everyone readying this is in fellowship with God. It is very possible that someone reading this will think, "Ok. I don't think I am in fellowship with God, but where do I start? How do I begin to fellowship with him?"
Fellowship with God starts with believing or having faith.
Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (NASB95)
Do you believe that God exists? Do you believe that he will reward you if you seek him?
What do we need to believe about God, and how do we seek him?
Even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19), so there must be something different about the belief or faith that we are to have in God. The belief that pleases is God is belief in God as God is. When we believe on God as we would like him to be or suspect him to be, that doesn't please him. Satan and all the demonic forces that followed in his rebellion against God believed that God shouldn't be God. They believed God existed (they were rebelling against him!), but they believed that they should be God instead. The belief in God that pleases God is the belief that only God should be God because only he is perfectly holy, just, righteous, merciful, gracious, patient, kind, good, and the attributes go on.
God displays his perfection in his Son Jesus.
Holy God created us, and we rebelled against him introducing sin and death into the world. Rather than destroy us for our rebellion, God chose instead to take our sin upon himself. Jesus Christ was sent to live perfectly were we failed, to die sacrificially a death that should have been ours, and to rise triumphantly from the dead proving that all who believe on him have been made right with God. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is both just and the justifier of those that believe (Romans 3:26). You must believe on Jesus if you want to have fellowship with God.
I hope that you are enjoying regular fellowship with the family of God. I hope that there are so many who have come alongside you in your walk with Christ. I hope that are at least a few who you hold close to your heart. I hope there are weekly and daily opportunities for you to fellowship with fellow believers.
But most of all, I hope you have fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.