More Like Jesus: Fellowship with God (Part 1)
March 15, 2016
by Peter Amsterdam
More Like Jesus: Fellowship with God (Part 1)
When we desire to become more like Jesus, it’s helpful to find foundational principles we can build on. While Christlikeness is manifested in the decisions we make and our outward actions, it stems from who we are internally. Christlikeness develops within us as we are continually transformed into His image.
We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.1
The key to such transformation is the gift of salvation, which we have received through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is through His sacrifice that we have the power to become new people, new creations in Him.2 The reason salvation is the key is that due to the fall of humanity through Adam and Eve’s sin, there was a rupture in the original fellowship that God had with humankind. The original intent was for people to be in fellowship with God, but sin made a break in the fellowship they had at first. God, however, made a way for that fellowship to be renewed. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, fellowship has been restored, and those who have entered into that fellowship will remain in it for eternity.
God, through the sacrifice of His Son, made it possible for human beings to be reconciled with Him. Reconciling is defined as the ending of conflict, or the renewing of a friendly relationship between those who have been disputing. In Paul’s epistles, he speaks of reconciliation, of our being brought back into the family of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.3
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.4
You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.5
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”6
The sin of Adam and Eve (and our individual sins) brought about a separation between God and humanity, but He made a way for us to once again enter into fellowship with Him. The cost of reestablishing that fellowship was huge: the suffering and death of His own Son, who took the punishment for all the sins of humanity upon Himself. When we think of the price God was willing to pay to bring us back into fellowship with Him, we should respond with awe at how important this must be to Him.
Understanding the importance of our fellowship with the Lord is one of the foundational principles for becoming more like Jesus. The Creator of everything wants to fellowship with us and was willing to go to great lengths to make it possible.
The apostle John wrote: Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.7
The apostle Paul wrote: God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.8
The Greek word koinōnia is translated in Scripture as “fellowship,” as well as “communion” (in KJV), “communication,” and “to communicate.” Some synonyms for fellowship are companionship, friendship, partnership, cooperativeness, solidarity, and community. As Christians, we are called to be in fellowship with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Being companions, friends, and partners with God means relationship. We have the blessing, honor, and privilege of having a personal relationship with God, and we are called to cultivate it.
Jesus set the example of taking time for His relationship with His Father.
Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.9 Now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.10 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.11
The time Jesus spent with His Father was His source of spiritual strength. Even amidst the busyness of ministering to crowds, He made time to fellowship with God, listen to God, and receive instruction. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.12 We too are called to spend personal time with the Lord, and it should be a priority for us, as it was for Jesus.
True fellowship with God begins with being God-centered, recognizing that our most important relationship is with Him. (We have other relationships, but He is our primary one.) Considering all that God has done for us, bringing us into His family and making it possible for us to be in relationship with Him, we should delight in making our relationship and fellowship with Him a priority in our daily life.
This fellowship (companionship, friendship, partnership, and solidarity) entails spending time in His presence, communicating with Him, worshipping Him; having two-way communication with Him by speaking to Him in prayer, reading His Word and listening to what He has to say to us through it, and listening to His voice as He speaks to us personally.
If our aim is to be more like Jesus, it is vital to give priority to our fellowship with Him. If not, we can’t be healthy Christians who are growing and maturing spiritually. Just as we can’t be physically healthy without eating each day, or can’t stay clean without regular bathing, neither can we stay spiritually healthy or clean without being in regular fellowship with our Creator. It’s just not possible.
Of course, fellowshipping with the Lord means devoting time to it, and finding time in our busy lives is never easy. There are myriad duties, events, responsibilities in caring for others, daily life chores, commitments, and recreation and sleep, which all need to be fit into our schedules. These things need to be done, but if we are to live a God-centered life, then setting aside time for fellowship with God should be our top priority.
To give our relationship with the Lord the priority it deserves requires commitment and personal discipline. He laid down His life for us, making it possible to live with Him forever, so giving some part of each day back to Him in love and gratitude is the least we can do. It can feel like a sacrifice for me to set aside time to fellowship with the Lord, but when I compare the benefits between spending time with Him and staying up an extra hour at night watching TV or reading or browsing online, there’s simply no comparison. I might be entertained for an hour, but that comes and goes; whereas if I go to bed an hour earlier so that I can wake up an hour earlier for fellowship with the Lord, it has a noticeable positive effect on my life. Carving out time in our day to spend with God, no matter how difficult that may be, should be a permanent commitment for anyone who wants to live in communion and fellowship with the Lord.
Rather than looking at our time with the Lord as a chore or something we have to do, we should see it for what it really is—a wonderful privilege. We are granted access to God, our Father in heaven; to Jesus, who laid down His life for us; and to the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. It’s a time with the one who is supposed to be our primary relationship. It’s a time to praise and thank Him for who He is and what He’s done for us. It’s time to connect with our Creator and Savior who sustains our life, who loves us, and has established a personal relationship with us.
When speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus told her: The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.13 We see that same concept in a verse that is often used in witnessing (and rightly so), although in its original context, it was said by Jesus to lukewarm Christians: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.14 Jesus desires fellowship with us.15
We take time daily with God because we love Him, because He deserves our praise, thankfulness, and devotion. Of course, there are benefits for us. When we take time in fellowship with the Lord, He responds. When we stop other activity and enter into His presence, we put ourselves in a position to listen to Him and receive His direction. He is able to guide us with His counsel,16 to teach us to do His will.17
As we spend regular time with God, we grow spiritually and we become more like Him. This is especially true when we spend time reading, meditating on, and applying His Word.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.18 Through living the truth of the Bible, we are sanctified, or made holy. If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.19 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”20
As we spend time with the Lord in His Word, we are challenged to grow and change. His Word teaches us, points out our faults and sins, corrects us, changes us, and causes us to grow in right living.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.21
As we grow in our faith, we stop doing things that are in conflict with what His Word teaches; as we put off our old self and our sins, we become more godly, more like Jesus.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.22 Now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.23
Fellowshipping with God is a priority in the lives of those who wish to be more like Jesus. Prayer, reading and absorbing God’s Word, praising and worshipping Him, talking with Him about our life—our hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures, confessing our sins, asking for His help, telling Him we love Him, listening to what He tells us—are all part of that fellowship, friendship, companionship, and partnership we are meant to have with Him.
(Part 2 of Fellowship with God will touch on ways to have meaningful time with God.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.
2 2 Corinthians 5:17.
3 Romans 5:10–11.
4 2 Corinthians 5:18–19.
5 Colossians 1:21–22.
6 Galatians 4:4–6.
7 1 John 1:3.
8 1 Corinthians 1:9.
9 Mark 1:35.
10 Luke 5:15–16.
11 Luke 22:39.
12 John 5:30.
13 John 4:23.
14 Revelation 3:20.
15 Rick Warren, Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 235.
16 Psalm 73:24.
17 Psalm 143:10.
18 John 17:17.
19 2 Timothy 2:21.
20 1 Peter 1:14–16 NIV.
21 2 Timothy 3:16–17.
22 Ephesians 4:22–24 NIV.
23 Colossians 3:8–10.