Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Have you read the first two in the series?
There are some articles that just flow out of me with few issues. Those are the ones I can write and publish in as little as two-three hours. Then there are the articles like this one, the flow is temperamental and full of snags from beginning to end.
Why was this article so challenging?
This article was tough because of its importance and the absolute need to be respectful of the task God has privileged me with. In this specific case, I’m writing about the most important part of Christ’s life-long human venture (His time in the flesh). His accomplishment in overcoming the world; what does it have to do with fellowship? I’ll get to that in just a bit.
What did Jesus face for us?
I have a high and intricate level of awareness of the opposition that faces Christians, just for being on the path to God, but especially for trying to help others find and maintain it. Still, my fight is nothing like that won by Christ. He had to blaze the entire trail to give me the instructions. All I need to do is follow them.
I don’t express my hardship as a competition toward Jesus. I do it to illustrate a point. It’s that, I can at least get a pretty good grip on what he went through.
I don’t know exactly what Jesus felt as a human, but I’m all too well aware of how much anger and hatred has flooded up from the lowest ranks. Just trust me on this one; the devil has spent thousands of years building walls between people. He doesn’t like it when a puny human like me starts picking at them with words that may actually help.
I think of the life Jesus led. It, worse than in my own, was full of persecution. The devil had a well placed system, something he believed would bring him unlimited power and control. Then along comes this guy, the Son of God, a piece of God. He tore holes in a system that literally did, and still does, enslave people. It’s only natural that Satan would oppose Jesus in every step, around every corner of his life.
So what did Christ have to overcome?
Jesus had to fight against an opposition the size of a planet. Everywhere he turned was an obstacle, a set of major threats; minds that were all but completely closed, hearts that were marked and darkened by sin and negativity, souls that were shrouded inside of human flesh that had nothing but a taste for immorality and evil. He faced a world that had virtually forgotten about his Father.
And then came His death. I often take the time to think about the physical pain of such a process. In the days just before the crucifixion he went through horrible things.
"As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men" (In other words, he was beaten so far beyond recognition that people were astonished.)
Then the crucifixion; nails piercing flesh, veins and muscle; weight quickly bearing down on those wounds, greatly increasing the pain as the cross was lifted into place; hours of physical, social and emotional torture that finally ended a life of opposition. Then, days into the mourning by His friends and family, the deep emotional onset of his loss, His resurrection began to take shape.
So through his Father’s wishes and immense love, In spite of decades of opposition and a terrible death, Jesus Christ overcame the world. He overcame a set of obstacles that would take most normal humans out during the early moments. He overcame the constant, heavy temptations and breakage that plague and chain many humans. He also overcame death as he stole those keys right out of the hands of the devil by descending into the lower parts of the earth (and likely suffering there beyond description).
How Christ’s accomplishment lends toward fellowship
The devil came along before Jesus, tempted people into his control and bound us with sin. I’m assuming God felt, that sin was too widespread and difficult to make amends for on an individual basis. Christ lead such a hard life and death for the purpose of putting up the bail for such sin. He blazed the path it takes to break the chains the bind us, often without our knowledge.
What does this have to do with Fellowship?
When I tell humans to overcome the world, it’s a bit of an abstract idea, one that’s actually a bit hard to explain. It’s partially about overcoming the outside world and its Earth-sized barrel, full of instructions and examples on how to destroy a spiritual future. The temptations of immediate satisfaction are everywhere.
Liquor stores and illegal drugs are abundant. Endless amounts of porn come with just a few key strokes. Multiple forms of electronic crime are becoming easier and easier to commit without legal consequence. And to tie it all together, teachings of Godly wisdom and self discipline are all too scarce.
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
James 3:17 KJV
Once that kind of worldly behavior becomes habitual, even addictive; the fight to overcome becomes both external and internal. We don't just face the internal pining for such substance and behavior, but it's everywhere we turn in the world around us. Almost every media channel, party, store, every day holds triggers for those habits.
It’s not just external material that keeps us in potential chains. It’s the many behaviors and beliefs we’re taught while living in this world, especially as children. We fight ever growing social challenges, poor self images and detrimental ways of dealing with each other.
This is all bad news for fellowship. I can’t hold inspiring, open and fulfilling relationships with others when I can’t overcome the walls that have been built inside and around me. I can’t build a good idea of what a relationship needs to be when I’m distracted with what a billboard or a movie tells me it should be.
So how do we overcome both internal and external worlds?
I gotta tell you, I’ve spent decades finding ways to pull and tear myself away from the behaviors I grew up around. I’ve been to so many therapists, read so many books and worked with so many techniques; I couldn’t possibly count each one. This was all important. For different reasons, God wants us to hear the words of humans when we need help with self improvement.
Later on, along came my involvement with Christianity. I’ve had much help from humans with overcoming my worlds. But, none of it compares to the improvements I’ve made by reading the Bible, hanging out with other’s who work from their spirit, and working to follow the words of Christ. There’s a speed and amount of repair that comes with putting God first that I’d never imagined before doing so.
In fact I thought it was impossible to make any improvements quickly. I believed the logic was that, if it takes years to break something in a human, it equally takes years to fix it. Sometimes that’s true, but not as often as I used to think.
What I didn’t realize then was that living a life with some of my issues was like trying to swim in a dry pool. Missing the Holy Trinity in my life was like that pool missing its water. Sometimes, you can swim as soon as you fill it up.
Here’s the main trick though; If you truly want the benefits of swimming, you have to get all the way in the water. That doesn’t just mean leaning on Christ for solace. That also means leaning on the potential power of what’s in the mirror, that is, the power to self improve, which brings the power of understanding others as well.
Overcoming the world and it’s behaviors and temptations has lead me down a path that is often fulfilling, rewarding and downright surreal. Not only has it brought me opportunity I’d never dreamed of, it’s brought me new and lasting fellowship. Because the more I learn about my own internal mechanisms, the more I realize we’re all standing on common ground. As I see more of how I work, I see more of the same things in other people.
The more I learn to forgive myself for my own wrong doings, the more I forgive others. And, as I learn to be more inclusive, forgiving and compassionate, I connect to more and more people I would have previously pushed away. That’s working toward true fellowship.
Have you read the other articles in this series?
Article 1 - True Fellowship - it Starts Where it Ends
Article 1 - True Fellowship - The Danger of Safety
Article 4 - True Fellowship - Dear Enemy