Fellowship in Depth – Part 4 – Grow Spiritually
Paul Tournier in his little book SECRETS brings out three steps that a person takes to become or develop a personality. It would seem that each step is important in this development.
He uses the illustration of a little girl called Sally. Sally when she begins to talk tells her mother everything – where she has been, who shetalks with, etc. However, one day Sally tells her mother everything except for one thing. Sally has a secret. Paul Tournier goes on to say that Sally is now beginning to develop her own personality.
What Sally does next is very crucial. She will choose someone to share
that secret with. This is the second step in developing a personality. When Sally shares that secret, something that no one else knows, she has done something very special. The person that she shares that secret with has been picked out by Sally to become her friend.
Often what happens is that this friend takes the secret and shares it with
someone else and doing so Sally is crushed, because her confidence has been eroded by the one that she picked out to be her special friend. What often happens here is that Sally does not share anymore, which in turn hurts her, not only in her personality but spiritually as well.
Paul Tournier goes on to say that there is one other step and that is to share that secret with God. One might say why share it with God since God knows everything anyway. The reason we share that secret with God is because we are taking the step of saying to God that wewant Him to be our closest friend. He will never break our confidence.
Why we need fellowship in depth is because no-one ever discovers himself in
isolation. Paul Tournier says: “No one discovers themselves in solitude,
by turning inward on himself and by analyzing himself. It is by giving one’s self that one finds himself. To tell a secret is to give one’s self. It is the most precious of gifts, the gift which touches the most. This friend has become himself a person by this victory over his timidity and constraint. He experiences an extraordinary feeling of liberation. The dimensions of his being are suddenly increased: he has breached the wall within which he was suffocating. By becoming transparent for you, he has become transparent for himself.”
“The most powerful means of getting to know one’s self is to allow ourselves to be examined by God and to listen to what He has to say to us, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.”
The tendency for each one of us is to go off on tangents. One of the things that will happen when there is genuine fellowship is that people will act as mirrors. We begin to see ourselves and our own mistaken attitudes. This is where ‘corrective surgery’ can come in.
Paul said something very important in Romans 2:1 “You, therefore, have no
excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
If we understood this verse I doubt that we would be so judgmental.
Do you find yourself getting irritated by what someone else does or says and you find yourself judging that person? It is possible that person is acting like a mirror and you are seeing some of your own wrong attitudes, errors etc. that the Lord wants to correct. This does not mean that we do not judge, because we must, but it does mean that we first take the log out of our own eye before trying to take out the splinter in someone else’s eye.
The Psalmist said in Psalms 19:12 “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.” The writer of the Hebrews says: “Throw away every weight.”
Fellowship in depth brings these to light so that they might be dealt with and that we might become all that God wants.
The problem that we face today is that the format of our fellowships does
not enable real fellowship to take place. We are like little islands in the midst of the congregation. Real community life is essential for fellowship in depth and fellowship in depth is important for spiritual growth.