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Partners in the Fellowship

The book definition of partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits. These relationships are often described as associates, colleagues, or teammates. When partners become intimate, terms such as soul mate are more appropriate as these individuals become focused on a common goal.

So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham, Lamentations 4:10.

Meanwhile, a fellowship is formed when multiple people form a friendly association based upon a shared interest. This joint venture often results in the establishment of a church, a safe place where people of faith can come together to reinforce their biblical beliefs. This is the context of the passage above as Jeremiah refers to the Jewish faith, partners in the fellowship due to their spiritual forefather Abraham.

Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

King Solomon illustrates the power of partners in the passage above. Solomon highlights the fact that there is power in numbers. Jehan Palsgrave was the first to record the expression “the more the merrier” in 1530. This mindset that the larger the number of participants, the greater the fun applies today in the context of a church. As one body with many parts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, with each possessing unique spiritual gifts, officially joining a church makes it possible to become partners in the Fellowship of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

A Case Study in Religion vs. Relationships

Religion is an interest that a pursuer ascribes to as their supreme importance. This pursuit results in a particular system of faith as individuals believe in and worship a personal God or gods. Meanwhile, relationships are the way in which two or more peopleĀ are connected and behave toward each other. Relationships can be traced back to a common alliance, bond, or connection based upon shared values. Religion tends to focus on teetotalism, a rigid following of a clearly defined set of rules. Depending upon your own personal desire, relationships can be kept at an arms length, drawn closer, or become intimate.

For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself, Galatians 5:14.

This case study begins with a first century sect referred to as the Judaizers. These Jewish converts to Christianity did not want to abandon their Old Testament heritage. Instead of focusing on their newly formed relationship with Jesus, the Judaizers overemphasized a strict adherence to Jewish customs. The leaders of this group convinced Gentile members of the Church in Galatia to become circumcised. Instead of following the apostles teaching in Romans 10:9-10, the Judaizers claimed that if you really wanted to be saved, “you need to to adopt Jewish customs and practices found in the Torah.”

But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The opposite side of this study is a woman who took relationships to the extreme. Unable to find love in normal relationships, Mary turned to prostitution, selling her body to unfulfilled men. Despite the money Mary made, the void in her heart remained. Instead of developing a physical attraction toward Jesus, a spiritual hunger was conceived. Eager to discover meaning in life, Mary becomes a follower of Jesus, trying to reconcile all the poor decisions of her past. Based upon the actions taken in John 12:3, Mary was closely listening to Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps a sign of contrition, Mary takes an expensive bottle of perform and anoints Jesus’ feet.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God), Galatians 5:16.

The passage above offers a solution to souls wrestling with religion verses relationships. While religion provides a sense of direction, relationships offer freewill to choose your level of commitment. According to the apostle Paul, there is an internal tug of war going on within your mind daily. Instead of feeling forced to go to church or behave in a certain manner, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit. As Christians begin to develop a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with Jesus, you will want to go to church, pray and read the Bible. When you embrace the freedom Jesus offers, faith replaces the need for religion. Thus, choose the abundant life Jesus promises by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

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