Fellowships! The term is as inspiring as it is pre-eminently significant. When a fellowship is rightly understood and experienced in its proper relationship, it suggests an affiliation of no mean standing. Today thousands of men are spending unstinted time, effort, and means to secure a "fellowship" from some institution or organization which will give them a higher standing and rank among men. Especially is this true of men in the medical profession. When the F. R. C. S. degree (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons) is conferred upon a physician, it at once grants to him an affiliation with a very distinct class of surgeons and medical practitioners. Such a degree is greatly esteemed and earnestly coveted by the majority of doctors.
But what of the minister who is called to follow in the footprints of the Great Physician? Should he secure a "fellowship" of any less rank? To this there can be but one answer,—Decidedly not! Verily, then, there is a special need today for the minister to secure his F. R. C. S. too. But in what institution? Where shall he look for such advantages? They can be obtained only from the Royal College of the Great Shepherd. No other "fellowship" is so necessary or of such inestimable value, for how can one follow the Master's plans and work His works without such a "fellowship"? Again we say, Impossible!
Heaven anxiously waits to confer upon every minister of the Word this divine "fellowship." To such an experience each minister has been called. Not once, or twice, but daily is it to be conferred upon the "undershepherd" of the sheep. It is designated as the "Fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Cor. 1:9.
It was for this "fellowship" that Paul, the great apostle, yearned. Even though he was a man of letters, rank, and position, he counted all these but dross that he might have this "fellowship" with his Lord. In the inspired utterance of his own soul, we hear him declaring:
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable ' unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Phil. 3:8-11.
What a clear, forceful setting forth of his ambitions and desires! And because of the fact that he obtained such a "fellowship," he became one of the mightiest Spirit-filled, Spirit-moved, Spirit-controlled ministers the human family has yet known, aside from the Lord Jesus Christ.
"What the church needs in these days of peril, is an army of workers who, like Paul, have educated themselves for usefulness, who have a deep experience in the things of God, and who are filled with earnestness and zeal.
"... For the want of such workers the cause of God languishes, and fatal errors, like a deadly poison, taint the morals and blight the hopes of a large part of the human race."—"Gospel Workers," p. 61.
"Paul carried with him the atmosphere of heaven. All who associated with him felt the influence of his union [fellowship] with Christ."—Id., p. 59.
Notice carefully the language used: "All who associated with him felt the influence of his union with Christ." "Union" certainly expresses fellowship, communion and companionship with the Lord Jesus. "Here lies the power of the truth."—Ibid.
Such an affiliation maintained each day makes a mighty, powerful ministry, as was Paul's. He had obtained his F. R. C. S., so to speak, from the proper source, and he used it with tremendous effect in his service for others. And we are further told that "of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings," as well as in His service, "is the most weighty trust and the highest honor."—"The Desire of Ages," p. 225.
How We Experience This "Fellowship"
Turning again to the instruction given us by the servant of the Lord, we read:
"It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit."—"The Desire of Ages," p. 83.
When this communion of soul takes place, it is possible for us to unite by faith our "weakness to Christ's strength," our "emptiness to Christ's fullness," and our "frailty to Christ's enduring might." Then we have "the mind of Christ." (See "The Desire of Ages," p. 675.)
O, what blessedness, what peace of mind, what strength, and what a change for the better would come into our ministry, if we would heed more fully, and practice more often, the foregoing instruction! Note it well: "A thoughtful hour each day in contemplation" and quiet "fellowship," communing with the Master. Think of the wonderful possibilities that would come from such a brief period spent in this manner daily! But we are so busy here and there that oftentimes the hour is spent otherwise than in sweet "fellowship" with Him. And, alas, at what a loss!
The writer is extremely conscious of the fact that Seventh-day Adventist preachers and workers are a very busy people. Every day is filled to the brim and running over with various duties; the responsibilities devolving upon each press to the limit one's time and endurance. There are so many things each day for which we must carefully plan that many a day quickly slips by with but little, if any, time left for real, personal communion and fellowship with Jesus.
True, we need to keep faithfully at our task. We need, too, well-devised plans, carefully studied methods, and strong, efficient organization. We also greatly need increased funds with which to promote and complete the unfinished task. But what we need more than any other one thing is a ministry which knows and experiences a close, personal communion in fellowship with Christ every day. It was such a "fellowship" that made the "great apostle to the Gentiles" the mightiest and the most outstanding preacher of his time and generation. It will make of us the same in this last generation of mankind. And, surely, such a ministry as was Paul's is the crying need of the advent movement today! Is this not so, my fellow workers?
Claremont, Cape, South Africa.