THE OPEN CHURCH IN A LOCKED DOWN SOCIETY
“…the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2nd Corinthians 13:14)
During the lockdown imposed on us as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Christians have been deprived of the biblical (and regular) means of fellowshipping with one another. We can never place too high a premium upon praising God together, praying with one another and waiting with our fellow believers upon the ministry of God’s Word.
Although we are deprived of these practical and God-given means of uniting us with each other – our fellowship continues.
This period has reminded us that our fellowship is not based upon external forms of worship. It is not that our meetings are unimportant; they are vital because we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
BUT – we can attend meetings with open hymn-books and bibles, conforming to all the structures of worship without true fellowship.
YET – at this time we can enjoy true fellowship without the appointed seasons for assembling that we sadly took too much for granted.
There is no better time, therefore, for exploring this question – ‘What is true fellowship?’
The final words of 2nd Corinthians teach that true communion must flow from the Holy Ghost. This is why we can maintain fellowship when the doors of the Meeting House are locked. The Church remains open, functioning and prospering even though the building that is traditionally called the Church is closed. The spirit of the Church is the Holy Spirit, alive and operating within the hearts of God’s people.
As long as the Holy Spirit is present in the hearts of Christians the Church will never be closed – God is at work uniting us together with Christ. Therefore, as far as Christians are concerned ministry and evangelism continues, albeit in a more remote way, because the Holy Spirit continues to empower the Church in the fulfillment of The Great Commission.
This not only explains what true fellowship is – but it also helps us understand the continuation and growth of the Christian Church throughout the centuries. Nothing that man nor Satan has attempted in order to overthrow the Church has succeeded because nothing can remove the bonds of fellowship generated by the Holy Ghost, which unite us together with Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost, keeps us united even though we are physically apart. This has always been a comforting truth, for a group in every congregation, unable to attend due to age, infirmity or sickness. Absent from the regular means of grace, shut out through circumstances but still at one with the Church body. The Holy Spirit continues to minister through instruction in the Word, assistance in prayer and in shedding the love of God abroad in every believing heart.
When our meetings resume let us not neglect this lesson – that without the ministry of the Holy Ghost as we praise and pray, whether we minister unto or be ministered to and as we engage at the Lord’s Table – true fellowship only exists through the communion of the Holy Ghost.
“The true communion of Christian men – ‘the communion of saints’ upon which churches are built – is not the common performance of external acts, but a communion of soul with soul and of the soul with Christ” (Philip Schaff).
Let us claim the promise and seek this communion “of soul with soul and of the soul with Christ”.
“…the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”