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Acts 2:42-47:  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.


When the Church was born, there was much unity, but the earliest Church still had its problems. There were false teachers and divisive people to contend with, there was sin that had to be confronted, and there was the threat or even the existence of factions within churches (1 Corinthians 3:1-9, 5:1-5, 11-13; Acts 20:25-31; Titus 3:9-10; Jude 1:3-4). Still, the degree of unity and high quality of fellowship have seldom been equaled since then and have probably never been surpassed. You can see in the Acts 2 passage above that the first Christians shared everything—food, material possessions, and so on. They visited each other’s houses and ate together regularly. These early New Testament saints truly lived and loved like family, and no wonder, for all who are saved are adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:14-17). With the Church functioning the way God intended, the Holy Spirit moved mightily among these believers and people were getting saved every day. Contrast that wonderful state of being with the condition of the Church in 2023. You may wonder, what on earth happened?


What happened to the Church over time is a long and complex process that would take a number of books to identify and explain in detail. In short, by the end of the first phase of the Church Age, the Ephesian phase (30-100 AD), the Church had maintained correct doctrinal teaching but was becoming dry, legalistic, and loveless, people (sometimes unwittingly) elevating works above love for and worship of God as somehow being acceptable Christian behavior (Revelation 2:1-6). By the 200’s AD, when Christianity was flourishing in spite of the intense persecutions being hurled against it, there developed a very legalistic strain of the faith which was fascinated with asceticism. Believers caught in the clutches of this form of Christianity were so strict that they believed if a Christian sinned at all once being baptized, their salvation was forfeited. Thank God that is not true, or else there would be virtually no one left in the body of Christ! Even before the state church arose in the early 300’s, “church” was becoming more formalized and institutional in nature, with a corresponding marked decline in the display of some of the spiritual gifts, such as miracles, tongues, and healings.


Sadly, this development is a go-to copout for cessationalists to this day. Then the Roman (state) church arose, and throughout the rest of the Church Age there have been splits into different branches of Christianity along with the development of tens of thousands of denominations.


It is amazing what can cause Christians to disagree. Satan knows well the concept of “divide and conquer”, something the Lord alluded to in one of His most fearsome rebukes of the Jewish religious leaders of His day (Matthew 12:24-32). This trend has continued right up to the present time, along with other unwholesome developments. Between a plethora of poor church practices, false or incomplete teachings, bad Bible translations, and denominations, plus other factors, fellowship has long been compromised among believers.


The busyness of daily life has taken its toll as well. With the cost of living so high, married couples have had to work, and some have had to take two or more jobs just to make ends meet. The pace of modern life is very fast, the distractions multitudinous. We have computers, computer games, information, music, movies, and so on at our very fingertips, and these become additional distractions. In families and even among believers, anymore it is not uncommon to see all, or nearly all, these individuals in any given setting looking at their phones instead of communicating with each other. That is a fellowship-killer. Believers’ interaction was already badly compromised—and then covid hit.


As of early 2022 the world had been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for two years. We have had masking, social distancing, the push for vaccinations, and lockdowns, including the closing of churches, at least temporarily. Even a year later, in 2023, some have remained at a limited operating capacity while others have had to because of a drop in giving brought on largely by consequences of the measures taken during the pandemic. There are not only businesses that have folded, but churches, too. Even as the world struggles to return to some semblance of normalcy, a lot of Christians are not coming back to church. During the pandemic they have decided not to return to church at all or, if they have not abandoned the faith completely, to follow church services either online or on television. That is absolutely no substitute for in-person worship and fellowship!


For those who are back in church there is a different fellowship barrier going on. Many parishioners are just as scared of covid as the world is. There they are, back in the church sanctuaries, hesitant to interact much with one another, hiding inside Fortress Covid—that wall of masks, face shields, gloves, and distancing which gives people a sense of security when, as believers, our first line of defense should be God and His Word! Masked-up believers talk of their faith in God while singing “A Mighty Fortress is our God” or “Way Maker.” They might as well be singing “A Mighty Fortress is our Mask” or “Vax Maker.” It is exasperating, trying to have fellowship with such individuals and setting an example of faith over fear, only to be looked at as careless, reckless, or even selfish.


The overall condition of the Church brings with it yet another problematic dimension—a lack of quality fellowship. We, as believers, cannot just ignore one another and do without each other’s company. Unfortunately, the degradation of Christianity which has been steadily going on throughout the Church Age has produced a mystery-meat form of the faith which could better be termed “Churchianity.” The products of this matrix of theological turmoil are those who would rather spend their time talking about the things of the world than the things of God. Even when they do talk about the faith, how can you have agreement with folks who doubt the validity of the Bible or who think there is more than one way to heaven? How can you get comfortable with a person who is espousing spiritual discernment, then proceeds to quote from The Passion Translation, The Message, or the NIV Bible? How can you plow a straight spiritual row with someone who professes to be a Christian yet believes in gay marriage or papal infallibility? Reminds me of a line from the Mr. Grinch song: “You’re a crooked jerky jockey and you drive a crooked hoss, Mr. Grinch!” [1]


So what do we do in the midst of all these issues? We should strive to maintain fellowship with other believers whenever possible, but not at the expense of compromising Biblical truths. Institutional Christianity is here to stay until Jesus comes to straighten out this mess that people have made of His Church. There are many more denominations out there than there are stars visible to the naked eye. There are so many bad Bible translations afloat that addressing them all is like stamping out an army of ants, one ant at a time. It may sometimes be necessary for you to go it alone—not forsaking other Christians or church altogether, but standing on the truths of Scripture even if you are the only person you know who is doctrinally sound. I do not say that to be prideful. Once you have thoroughly studied the Word of God and seen how far the Church has gone off the rails from the seminary level on down, you will never again be satisfied with church as usual unless you just choose to dismiss what you have learned.


Still, we are not only salt and light to the world but also examples to other believers. Whether anybody understands you or not, such as you being in the minority of a congregation who is not masked up due to fear of covid, go unmasked anyway. Set the example. Even if no one gets what you are doing, the Father will know you believe in Him and His Word and are about His business. Stick to the truths of the Bible. You might be labeled a fundamentalist, a legalist, a cultist, or worse, but it is better to please God than to operate in the fear of man (Acts 4:19-20). Use one of the few reliable Bible translations out there. So what if they think you are a KJV or NKJV cultist! Do you really want to endorse any Bible version that has been “modified”, knowing such “modifications” carry severe consequences (Revelation 22:18-19)? Be selective of what church you attend, bearing in mind at the same time that Biblically sound churches are increasingly hard to find. Do strive to find one good enough to go to, though.


As a Bible-believing, Bible-reading Christian with a solid prayer life, you should have enough wisdom to do this. And rejoice in the fact that throughout history God has always had a remnant. Sometimes it may be a long wait, but as a part of the remnant keep trusting in and praying to God for Him to help you find likeminded believers. Sooner or later, He will put you with them.


Fellowship is necessary for us as believers.  Do not approach fearful or misguided believers in a high-handed, condescending, mean-spirited manner. If you must vent, vent to God, repent of whatever you need to repent of, and go back out to set the example of Christian love we should all set for believers and lost alike. Keep speaking and living in love the truths of Holy Writ, and sooner or later some of the seeds you planted will sprout and yield a good crop. I will close with some Scriptures for guidance:


Hebrews 10:23-25:  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.


1 Kings 19:18:  “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”


1 Thessalonians 5:12-22:  And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.


Colossians 3:12-17:  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


2 Timothy 1:7:  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


Galatians 6:9-10:  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.


John 13:34-35:    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”



[1]  Song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” written by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, composed by Albert Hague, vocals by Thurl Ravenscroft, Copyright 1966, from “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Copyright 1966, MGM Television.



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