If fellowship is friendship with a plus, then Paul and Timothy enjoyed fellowship. Dissimilar in temperament and of different generations, they were nevertheless bound by a bond of affection. Paul once wrote of Timothy, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare… Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Philippians 2:20-22).
It is to Timothy that Paul can appeal for help at the end; he knows him to be the kind of thoughtful friend who will bring the cloak he needs, and his books—
and hurry to get there before winter (2 Timothy 4:13, 21).
But what is that plus in the friendship? It is, of course, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Unsaved people may be good friends, but only where both are Christians does real fellowship exist. In fact, our fellowship must first be with Jesus and then with those who belong to Jesus.
It is of the greatest importance for any man or woman in the ministry to appreciate the importance of fellowship. If our preaching leads men to Christ, it will surely lead them together. Let me aim at that, and let me foster and strengthen that fellowship—not by focusing on the group (for that can lead to unhealthy introspection), but by keeping Jesus resolutely in the center.
We need to be deeply impressed with the fact that Jesus is in the midst when we gather, to appreciate His presence, to love Him for it, and to let His love flow over our gatherings. The warmth and happiness of such groups will act like a magnet to the community in which we are set.
Men and woman are sinners, in need of a Savior. And that Savior is available, graciously near, ready to rescue. His name is Jesus—heaven’s answer to earth’s ruin and misery.
This Jesus has accomplished, once for all: the redemption of the lost. It is now for the lost to learn that and to be persuaded to respond to it in faith. Those who do will find Him strong to deliver, faithful to keep, and ready to enclose His own in a fellowship of wonderful love.
Edward Read, Timothy, My Son