ONE BODY – THE BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP 2 (Zac Poonen)
The Bible plainly and repeatedly teaches that no Christian can have fellowship with God without fellowshipping with
other believers. You cannot walk with God if you do not walk in love with your fellow-believer.
The cross on which Jesus died had two planks – a vertical one and a horizontal one: Jesus came to bring peace not only
between man and God (vertically) but also between man and man (horizontally). The vertical and the horizontal
relationships go hand in hand. You cannot have the former if you ignore the latter.
John, the apostle of love, has some very strong words to say on this matter. One of the evidences, he says, of genuine
conversion is that a man begins to love his fellow-Christians. If a man does not have this love, it is a sure indication
that his conversion is spurious and that he is heading for eternal death (1 John 3:14). Doctrinal correctness was not the
only test that the apostles applied to ascertain where a man stood in relation to God.
Later on in the same letter, John says that if a man claims that he loves God while hating his brother, he is a liar. Mark
that! The proper name for such a man is not “believer”, but rather, “liar”! And John’s logic is irresistible. He says a
brother is visible whereas God is invisible. If you cannot love the visible, it is impossible to love the invisible. (1 John
Now compare this with the experience of most “believers.” Love for God is usually assessed in terms of busy activity
in Christian work or in terms of rapturous feelings of delight experienced in a meeting. These can be most deceptive. I
have come across believers who are out of fellowship with other Christians who testify nevertheless to “wonderful
times of prayer” and to “amazing results in service.”
How could they possibly be walking with God when they have not even made an effort to settle matters with other
members of God’s family against whom they have a grudge? Surely Satan has blinded their minds to the truth of
The price of broken fellowship
Often we do not realise what we deprive ourselves of, when fellowship is broken with other believers. The Bible tells
us that we can discover the breadth, length, depth and height of Christ’s love and be filled with all the fullness of God
only along “with all the saints” (Eph. 3:17-19). It is only as we know the reality of fellowship with the believers God
places us with, that we shall be able to enter into an experiential understanding of the love of Christ and of the fullness
The one who cuts himself off from any fellow-Christian, thereby deprives himself of the experience of Christ’s love
and grace which could have been his through that person. When we fail to live by the law of love, we rob ourselves of
some of Christ’s riches and some of God’s fullness.
The Body of Christ
Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians is centred around the great truth of believers being one Body in Christ. Christ is
the Head of the church, and the church is His Body (Eph. 1:22,23). Each believer is a member of this Body.
This is not just a fact to be acknowledged intellectually but one that should affect our daily life.
The first half of the letter to the Ephesians deals with the doctrine of the Body of Christ. The second half of the letter
deals with the practical outworking of this truth. And this is how the second half begins:
“Therefore….. walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and
gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace…..(for we are all parts of) one body” (Eph. 4:1-4).
In other words, once a person has understood and “seen” this truth of the church being the Body of Christ, he should
long to walk in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love, unity and peace with his fellow-believers. When a
Christian does not walk like that, it indicates that he hasn’t seen the Body of Christ.
Such a person needs to go back to the first three chapters of Ephesians and say, “Lord, I’m blind to something here.
Please teach me. Please open my eyes.” For the truth of “the Body” is not one that we can grasp merely with our
intellects. As Paul says, the eyes of our heart need to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, if we are to know (Eph.
To the church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “You are Christ’s body, and individually members of it ” (1 Cor.12:27). True, the
Christians in Corinth in the first century were only a small part of the worldwide, past, present and future group of
believers that constitute the Body of Christ; but they were nevertheless to be a local expression of that Body in
Corinth. This is the calling of every group of believers in every age and in every place. It is God’s intention that every
Christian fellowship, whether it be a church, organization or body of workers, be a visible expression to the world of
the Body of Christ.