Thinkin' Out Loud
The Advantages of Fellowship With Other Christians
Perhaps you need to be, as my son told me recently, "only six years away from half a century old," to identify with what I am about to tell you. But, in East Texas when I was a boy, we had no idea what central heat was. We had a fireplace and a few butane heaters throughout the house. In the wintertime, the nights got cold, the heaters were turned off and the fire in the fireplace went out. The only possibility for staying warm was sleeping in a warm bed. Mom put so many heavy quilts on our bed that it was difficult for a kid to turn over while snuggled underneath them. With a three bedroom house and seven kids to raise in it, sleeping alone was unheard of. And, I still don't understand how the sheet's could get so cold during the day! But, I hated to be the first one to get into bed to "warm it up" for the other guy.
To my surprise, I was reading Ecclesiastes 4 the other day and Solomon referred to a similar situation that reminded me of my childhood. In verse 11 he said, "Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: But how can one be warm alone?" I can understand that, and I suspect that many of you can as well. There are few circumstances that compare with being alone. One who is relegated to being alone knows the feeling better than I.
In this chapter, Solomon spoke of the tears of the oppressed and the power of the oppressor. He lamented that the oppressed "had no comforter." In fact, he said he praised the dead because they were in much better condition than the living - life was vanity because they stood alone to face the hardships of life.
Thus, he affirmed, "Two are better than one . . . ." He said if one falls, the other can lift him up, but woe to him that is alone when he falls, "for he hath not another to help him up." If someone prevails against him, with a friend he can withstand him. It is as one climbing into a cold bed alone, trying to stay warm.
Uninspired men bear testimony to the same truth. Coleridge lamented, "Alone on a wide, wide sea." W.B. Yeats wrote, "The wind blows over the lonely of heart, and the lonely of heart is withered away." No wonder, then, that Solomon reminds us that "two are better than one."
When the church was established, sinful men were cleansed of their unrighteousness and bound together as a fellowship of kindred souls in a thing Jesus called the church. Being in the church does not deliver us from the heartaches of physical life but, being in the church does not leave us alone either. With those of "like precious faith," we stand together with a common determination to overcome. We are not comfortless! We serve together in the greatest of all causes and we share alike the hardships wrought by the world.
The sharing, caring and helping, which is the fellowship of the saints, is not appreciated as it should be. Possibly, we do not understand its value until some calamity strikes. Scores of brethren can attest to the value of having other Christians to turn to in times of need. The quiet words of comfort, and the unannounced deeds of helpfulness which Christians do for each other, are numberless. The mere knowledge that "I am not alone" brings a "blessed assurance" that all the hosts of Satan cannot destroy or steal! Do we not all have someone with a ready ear and a helping hand upon whom we can call day or night? Perhaps you've never even considered needing such, but know assuredly that that ear or that hand is there, if and when it is needed.
None should cry as David, "No man cared for my soul" (Psalms 142:4). We all live under the injunction as Christians to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). And, even in those hours when men cannot help, we still have a comforter. Peter encouraged, "Casting all your cares on Him, for He careth for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). For the provisions of a caring God, and a loving brotherhood, we give our thanks. And, for this we unashamedly praise God!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 2, p. 44