We often limit our thinking about the blood of Jesus and the cross to a vertical relationship with God. But Jesus’ death also has a horizontal dimension. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Jesus shed his blood so I can have fellowship with God (walk in the light). But Jesus also shed his blood so that we can have fellowship with one another. In fact, according to this verse, experiencing the purifying power of the blood is the result of having fellowship with one another, not just with God.
So why on earth do we not embrace fellowship for our encouragement and our accountability?
The meaning of fellowship
Well, maybe its because of the actual meaning of the New Testament Greek word which we translate as ‘fellowship’? It means:
- Sharing everything (inside, outside, physical stuff, stuff in your heart, joys, pains, light, dark, highs, lows, victory, sin etc).
- Participation (everyone takes part).
- Common union (having the same things in common).
- Community (a common unity).
I think this is hard. But I also think that the enemy deceives, so we forget that fellowship is actually a pathway to sins being revealed, forgiven and purified.
Two key leadership questions
In the ministry I work with we often say to leaders, Jesus calls us to make disciples and to be disciples. So two key questions for leaders who are disciples of Jesus are:
- Who are you discipling? (this is the ministry question)
- Who is discipling you? (this is the community/accountability question)
Now even when we have both these relationships in place, and I believe it’s necessary, we can still limit this kind of discipling to a one-on-one, expert-on-novice, “just-keep-it-between-the-two-of-us” kind of relationship, where one person knows my secrets and is helping me be a better leader.
That is better than not having someone keep me accountable but the first disciples of Jesus lived in community…in fellowship…in one another…that’s the life John is talking about in this verse. It is a life where a community of people hear me, have me, hold me, help me and challenge me to grow into the person Jesus designed me to be. Especially as a leader. No one person is the expert. No one person can give me all I need. But a small community of people can add to my life the things that Jesus has given each of them, even as I share my life with them.
If you don’t have a person, or better yet, people like this in your corner, there’s a good chance that you’re not walking completely in the light. You may be hiding:
- Performance anxiety
- Mental, emotional and psychological stress
- Spiritual stagnation
- Secret sins
All in the name of “I’m the leader and I have to give everyone the impression that I’ve got this.” But there’s a cleansing flow of the blood of Jesus available to you if you would only have fellowship with one another.
The healing touch of community
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Even though we need to be physically distant, we can receive this healing while going on a hike, group video call, in zoom room, WhatsApp group etc.
So, who are you discipling, who is discipling you and who are you being discipled with?
If the answer is “no-one” to any of these questions, especially the last two, then let’s ask Jesus to give us some ‘one anothers’. Let’s ask the Lord to bring a regular, consistent, committed group of ‘one anothers’ into our life so that we can walk in God’s light, and experience the ongoing cleansing, liberating, redeeming and restoring power of your blood through community.