The Suburbs of Fellowship

We have a natural tendency to think about relationships in spacial terms. Some are close, some are far. It makes sense when we think about Aunt Jane who lives two-thousand miles away. We don’t see her very often; we’re not that close.

Of course actual distance between people doesn’t actually determine their unity, their fellowship, their closeness. Your spouse might be in New Zealand and yet she is in your bosom. Or your spouse might be sitting in bed next to you eighteen inches away and yet a world apart.

Some of us have been reading Dante’s Inferno and there is a sense of spiraling distance from God the deeper into hell the pilgrim descends. Sinners get the punishment they deserve. That’s why, for example, gluttons who were never satisfied on earth, will gulp handfuls of mud. That’s also why those who rejected God are judged to stay away from the goodness of God’s presence.

As Christians we might feel that we are close to God, or further from Him at times. We do grow in our fellowship as we know Him better and relate to Him in love and obedience.

But He does not choose some for His favorites and push others in the suburbs of fellowship. We are in the center circle, not out on the periphery. He is no Jacob. Through the true Israel, Jesus, we are all sons of His right hand, not just those who write psalms. Through the true vine, we are all branches grafted in; you don’t have to graduate from seminary. None of us deserve it, but “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).

Emmanuel – “God with us.” Hallelujah – “Praise the Lord,” us with Him. The bread and the wine is for all His children, no hierarchies to climb, no great distance to cover. We have communion with Him, seated at His Table.