Our Fellowship Is Like a Wheel

acts-2-46-47

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. For some time the Lord has been teaching me about the nature of true Christian fellowship. Ever since I was born of the Spirit in 1970, I have loved my time with the saints of God and have made it a priority in my life. I was rewarded openly at first because I was seeking Jesus as He abode in other believers I knew. We were all young believers with our wonderful new found love for Christ bubbling out. Our fellowship with each other and with Jesus was filled with His love.  It was like living the Book of Acts as His love freely flowed between us.

But then one day after many months, Jesus said to me, “Michael, I have someone I want you to meet.” I thought, “Who could this be?” He then said, “I want you to meet my Father.” I about freaked out. I was raised Catholic, and in my mind God was like “The Great and Mighty Oz,” greatly to be feared.  I said, “Jesus, if I were to have a relationship directly with your Father, what happens to You?”  He then said, “Don’t you understand? This is why I came and dwelt among men, that they might be restored to my Father.”

This dialogue was a turning point in my relationship with God. Shortly after that I started experiencing Him not only as a loving Father in Christ, but one who rebukes and chastens those who are His sons. Many trials and hardships were to follow. The honeymoon time with Jesus that lasted for months seemed to be over. My flesh rebelled against this new phase of my relationship with Daddy. He was now taking me from spiritual childhood into sonship, and it was not fun (see Proverbs 29:17, Acts 14:21-22, and Hebrews 12: 7-11).

After that, heartfelt fellowship with other saints, grew very thin, for the most part. I so loved those early days of such sweet times with His saints that I went on searching for it everywhere I went, but it has often been disheartening. If I found fellowship with others in the churches, it never seemed to last. Today, I can see the depths of what was prophesied in the following passage, because this is what Father was doing with me.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2Cor 6:16-18, KJ2000)

He was weaning me from my dependence on church going! Not all that goes by the name “church” is THE Church. There is a great unclean mixture and many conflicting voices out there in Christendom and God was pulling me away from the confusion unto Himself.  Brethren, I am not the only one He has done this with. This is not an exclusive thing that has happening only to me. This is God’s way with His elect. He has separated to Himself a called-out people all through the scriptures (Enoch, Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel, David, the prophets, Jesus, the disciples, Paul and finally the ekklesia of called-out ones — His Church). Many of us have been called outside the camp unto Him and it is a great reproach to those who are still inside the camps of Christendom (see Heb. 13:11-14).

More Fine Tuning

gods-fine-tuning

Recently God has been fine-tuning me regarding this thing called “fellowship.” He has had First John 1:7 on my mind almost continually. John connects fellowship with walking in the Light as Jesus is in the Light.  During this time I have learned much by watching the example of a dear saint who I have come to know in the last few years. This person has put fellowship with the Father and the Son first before fellowship with other believers. This was so strange to me that I didn’t know how to take it. It almost felt like rejection, because at times that devotion to Christ seemed to come between us. He had become this dear saint’s first priority. All my Christian life I have rarely found such devotion to the Father and the Son as with this person.

One other time I came up against this kind of devotion to God and His calling when I asked a dear older saint to please pray for me. Their answer stunned me. They said, “No! I do not take on a prayer burden for anyone unless God puts it on my heart. I have to hear it from Him.” Well, that gave me a lot to think about! We so glibly say, “I will pray for you, brother,” without giving it much thought. For the mature in Christ, obedience becomes a matter of spiritual survival because the enemy can load us up with all manner of “good things” we should do!

We all seem to put something else first before God, even “good” things like our well being, careers, family, friendships, even our churches. He has been showing me that looking for fellowship with other believers first is a near miss if we are to truly come into real fellowship with one another. John shed light on how spiritual fellowship works when He wrote about the priority that God demands before it can happen.

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light… if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:3-7, ESV2011 -emphasis added)

Let me be more concise and paraphrase John. “Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and the Son… God is light, if we walk in that light as HE is in the light we have fellowship first with Him and then with those who are also walking in His light.” John’s fellowship with the Father and the Son is what gave him the Light of Life because God is Light. John wrote to the saints from this same Light.  No one wrote about the love of God like John did. His priority was His fellowship with the Father and the Son, and that made all the difference between walking after the Spirit and walking in the flesh.

When we find a brother or sister who walks in God’s Light, what a find they are! We want to be around them all the time, but therein is the danger. We soon can put another person or persons in the place that our Father wants with us. We rejoice when we hear God speaking into our hearts by one of His servants, but the message we should be hearing from a true servant of God is to seek God FIRST (read 1 Cor. Ch. 3).

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” As a dear saint pointed out to me recently, here we see the priority our love and devotion should have–first for God, then others and finally ourselves. It is so easy to get this all turned around.

We Are Like Individual Spokes in a Wheel

About two weeks ago as I contemplated and prayed about where true Christian fellowship can be found, God showed me a picture of a bicycle wheel with its many spokes, all attached to one central hub. The hub contains the axel that every other part revolves around. He showed me that we who belong to Him are like the spokes on that wheel. We are further apart from one another out by the rim of the wheel than we are when we are closer to the Hub. Jesus Christ is our Hub we must all be attached to, just as He is the Vine and we are His branches! If we are not attached to Him, we wither up and die.  If our attachment is to one another alone instead of Him, our fellowship soon falls apart! What a parable this was for me. It explains why so many of my attempts at having fellowship with other Christians, even mature Christians, has failed. We do serve a jealous God.

many-believers-spokes-wheel-the-body-of-christ-1024x683

The above is a telling picture of our fellowship with one another with Christ as our Hub. The rim may be the body of Christ as the caption says, but it is also the part that is closest to the world. It is attached only to the spokes and not the Hub. No, the true body of Christ is attached directly to Him and the rim is their outreach to the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. Our attempts to relate to worldly people and their ways can also draw us away from Christ if we make that our priority instead of our fellowship with Him. Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.  And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:23-22 – emphasis added). Our witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ all hinges on our individual unity and fellowship with the Father and the Son, not the world. Ezekiel prophesied about the working of this unity.

Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. (Ezek 1:20-21, ESV2011)

Wow, what a picture of our fellowship with the Father and the Son, the Wheel inside the Wheel and the Spirit in and among us as we follow Him. May we forever live our lives within them and do their will.

Advertisements

23 comments on “Our Fellowship Is Like a Wheel

  1. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. Amen and amen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ken Dawson says:

    Great post Mike—If I were to be stuck somewhere with only one text to read from the bible it would for sure be Ezekiel!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Ken. Of all the books of the O.T., Ezekiel has so many things written that not only point to the decline of Israel, but of the church. Yet, Isaiah has so much in it that prophesy about Jesus and because of that I would choose it over the others to have if I could only have one. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As Christians we are taught in the church system that we need one another and we need the church. All the main focus is on religious things and places. I agree we do need fellowship with one another for encouragment and helping build one another up, but that is a by-product of our love for the Father. It seems to me that once outside the walls of religion the main focus is getting into a home church or small group because we think we need others and some type organization. Again the focus is on things and people rather than on the Father. I’m finding that the Church today misses the main point a lot. We focus on so many other things and miss the fact the the Spirit of the Father lives within us. We have access to Him always. we are finding that even though we have left the organized church the system is still within us and the things we were taught and believed all these years takes time to get out of us. Such a good article. It is good to be reminded that we have access to and fellowship with the Father and it is so much better than any religious system.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Carina says:

      You are right. As one dear brother put it, It’s one thing to get out of the system. Much harder to get the system out of you! I keep asking the Lord to give us true discernment of spirits to identify all the lies we have believed and which have developed huge roots in us. I trust in His promise for my life and all of God’s chosen: “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.” His light shining through to show us all the areas where we are still “in the dark”. Especially the areas where pride reigns.

      Before we can truly learn, we need to unlearn so much! Just like Jeremiah was sent before an unbelieving and hardened generation, we need the Holy Spirit to “to pluck up and to break down,
      to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Michael D. and Carina. I agree with all your observations. It’s so easy to become people-dependent and not even know it, but it is hard to break that habit. Church as we know it has had about 1700 years to wind its roots into our hearts and minds. The children of Israel were in captivity to Egypt for only 400 years and it took 40 years and the deaths of 99.99% of the ones who left with Moses before they could obey God and enter the Promised Land. No wonder that bearing our cross daily as we follow Christ is so important!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don says:

      Liked your comment DWR. I agree and it seems that when I read the Great Commission our Lord told us quite plainly “go” first of all and then “make Disciples”, two activities that are woefully lacking in any of the groups that I have attended through the years. I must be careful not to be pointing fingers as is warned in Isaiah 58:9. I often think of what Martin Luther did with the catholic leaders and check if my statements are in any way aligned with the Spirit of that reformation attempt.

      Those who make disciples simply reveal the True Vine and help others remain attached to Him. Each branch must soak in the life giving sap for him/herself. No one else can ABIDE for you only you alone can do that. Fruit/growth is a natural result without our “doing effort” just simply staying attached to the Vine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome article, Michael! ⭐

    So many truths of what the Lord has been teaching us over the years in only one entry!! Wow!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carina says:

    This topic touches me deeply. I learned this lesson the hard way, and got many reminders. The Lord brought me to situations when ALL I had to cling on was Him, when all of my peers turned against me, and right then Jesus would speak to me and say, “Remember? I was rejected, too!” That got me to appreciate Him all the more!

    One of the saddest passages in Scripture is this: John 2:24-25 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

    Jesus sought to experience fellowship with us… and yet most people were not ready.

    But on a more positive note, I got Psalms 16 today (again!). I find here all the topics you have mentioned:
    “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” “You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.” Fellowship with God

    “As for the saints who are on the earth, They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Fellowship with those who are walking in fellowship with God

    “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips” A healthy (though loving and not judgmental) separation from those who are not in the same spirit.

    May the Lord unite us in Him! In Jesus, the Way, the Truth and our life!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pamelaamel says:

    Fascinating image of the wheel and spokes!!! There is so much that points to this heavenly design even in nature. Oranges, apples, fruits, etc. have a center spoke with radiating lines outward. The earth and it’s magnetic sphere. DNA, cells, etc., when split in half. An interesting and provocative (keep-the-baby-not-the-bath-water) documentary YouTube video called “Thrive,” introduced me to the geometric design called the “Torus,” which to me is one of the most understandable pictures yet of the Ezekial image of “the wheel within the wheel,” that I’ve heard to this point anyways. I recommend being challenged by this video and not dismissing it for it’s bunny-trails. It’s not perfect in its conclusions – but is anything yet?

    As to your imagery of the spokes, and how they get farther apart the farther they are from the center, is one that I think is going to stick with me for a long while! I had not thought of it quite like that, and it’s so rich! The things built into nature can teach us so much!

    Intimacy with each other deepens the more closely we are related to Christ the Hub and Center of the Universe. When we meet others who are at a similar revelational distance from each other on the “spoke line,” we have fellowship. Deep, remarkable fellowship. I see these to be the ones who Jay Ferris has termed “given” relationships.

    I suppose (and this isn’t your point in the article, I know) that we can look at a wheel as the body of Christ, and we are still all a part of the wheel no matter where we are in our maturity into center, the “fullness of the stature of Christ.”

    But I suppose that is the limitation, and the limitlessness, of such images. 🙂

    Thank you Michael, for this insightful article. May the Holy Spirit lead us into His Truth, which should lead us into a more amiable, and affectionate, and forgiving love for one another!

    Pamela

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this teaching, Pamela. I agree that the body of Christ is along their length of the “spokes.” People who are further out from the Hub in their heart commitments to Him, can have relationships, but the further we are away from Him being our ALL, the greater the chance that our relationships with other saints will be carnal. Take the Corinthians, for instance. They were focused on Church leaders with their devotion (see 1 Cor. 3) instead of seeing ALL things were theirs as they abode IN Christ, not men or their spiritual “gifts.”

      The key seems to be in our walking in the Light as Christ is in the Light of the Father and making no room for the darkness that is in our natural man. James put it this way, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jas 5:16, KJ2000). Living in this kind closeness and honesty with our fellow saints is not fun, but the fruit of forsaking our darkness and being healed by His Light is worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Carina says:

    Last night, the Lord had me read the book of Ephesians until a passage really grabbed me in chapter 4. I’ll write in caps the phrases that leaped from the page.
    4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 ONE LORD, one faith, one baptism; 6 ONE GOD and Father of all, who is ABOVE ALL, and through all, and in you all.

    One Lord. That’s the key to true unity. His Lordship. His absolute Kingdom rule of our lives. We who have been walking in Him for some years and have been taught by the Holy Spirit know something about His lordship. But still, we’re not FULLY surrendered. We want to keep a little of our old independent selves, our own will.

    If we destroyed the concept of “inviting” Jesus in our hearts and admitted He is the legitimate, absolute owner of the house (us), not just a guest, if we ceased striving and let Him rule over us, we would see an end to contentions, dissensions, heresies, enmities, jealousies… and anything that prevents fellowship with like-minded believers. We would immediately be ONE in the spirit with those who have also accepted His lordship absolutely, or those who are learning to, like we are.

    The fact that there are so many denominations, so many different concepts of God, so many interpretations of the Bible, means that most of us are carnal, and we still value our own ideas more than His truth.

    We cannot change others, but we can choose to accept God’s invitation to radically surrender to Him, to let Him break us and change us, whatever it takes.

    Elijah had such a heart, and at one point he felt lonely. The Lord reminded him that He had a remnant… and sent him to Elisha to share his last days. 🙂

    May God lead us to people who encourage us to seek Him passionately!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie Harros says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Michael. the teaching gives me much to ponder about our walk with Christ, Miss you my Brother! Laurie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      You are welcome, dear Laurie. I hope you and your hubby are doing well in your new home. How is your mom doing? It was good to see you again, though the circumstances weren’t the best.
      Michael

      Like

  9. Very uplifting Michael. To hear the beauty and the song of a heart in love with its Lord.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Kevin. The words were given me by the Lord. I have not felt this much anointing as I did when I wrote this blog, ever.

      “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (Jas 4:8a, KJV)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Don says:

    Wonderful illustration Michael, I realize that all the spokes are the same size as each other but only the upper ones are carrying the load. Nevertheless as the “wheel” rolls forward each spoke takes a turn for carrying that load. Only as each spoke remains connected to the Center will the whole “wheel ” continue to move forward. Only the Center Hub carries all the load all of the time, no spoke can take the place of the Hub or Axle.

    When the Children of Israel entered the land the Lord placed them under judges while He held the position of King ruling over them as a Shepherd rules over sheep not as a tyrant demanding they obey. Each individual sheep finds it necessary to stay connected to the Shepherd and follow the directions to the best green grass and cool water. Each one grows his own wool and delivers it to the Master for His use and as He sees fit. In this way each situation was handled by the “judge “that the King sent to take care of the people.

    In the local religion only the pastor it seems is able or should I say allowed to eat the grass and stand up to tell the sheep (of which he is one) what it tasted like. This approach does not grow much wool. True discipleship on the other hand would be a pastor taking a few people into the Scriptures and all eating the same grass equally so that any one of them are equipped to give testimony to any one else. Every spoke, every sheep, every member of the Body of Christ connected to the Lord and able to do the work of the Lord in His turn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for expanding on this allegory of the wheel, Don. Yes, all of Jesus’ sheep hear His voice and follow HIM (John ch. 10)! This is not the case in today’s churches, I am afraid there are so many spiritually emaciated sheep because they expect a human shepherd to do all the digging in the Bible for them and to do the listening to the Spirit for them as well. This kind of gathering might be under one roof, but it is not under THE one SPIRIT… AND IT IS NOT FELLOWSHIP! It is funny how often I have heard Ephesians 4:11 (the so-called 5 fold) preached, but rarely do we see 4:12 & 13 come to pass.As a result I have to conclude that we are NOT seeing 4:11 practiced as it was meant to be either.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Light Ministry Blog says:

    My friend, a rich fellowship with the saints is an example to be followed for your entire life. God encourages it as part of our learning and maturing process and we don’t ever “out grow” attending Spiritual worship with like-minded believers. There are examples of this sort of fellowship throughout the New Testament. Corporate worship is a very important part of being a Christian…

    Steve

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s