It is not for nothing, then, that the church—bought by, cleansed by, and united in the blood of Christ—is often portrayed as the family and household of God. The impulse of Christian communion in the family of God is that we share in the koin nia, the participation or fellowship of the Spirit of God, which ushers us into a vital communion with our triune God. Too often, such a discussion can remain abstract, with little obvious relevance. Yet, far from complicating or distracting from our fellowship with one another, this theology enriches and enlivens it. The New Testament variously describes our fellowship as with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9), the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14), and the Father and the Son together, which directly grounds our fellowship with each other in our fellowship with our triune God (1 John 1:3). Indeed, if we considered this truth in the same manner that the Shema calls us to love and bind ourselves to the Word of God, at any and every moment of the day to be pondering it, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to which the New Testament calls Christians would take on a different practical import in our lives.
Whether it is after Lord’s Day worship when congregants remain in the sanctuary talking at length or the more intimate living room setting of a home Bible study, whether it is the casual poolside chat at a youth fellowship or weeping on the shoulder of one walking a path of grief, there are many ways that the bonds of fellowship are established, fed, and strengthened. All these take place through the regular, ordinary, day-by-day lives of Christians walking with one another in faith, hope, and love.
Yet, there is likewise a particular emphasis on the gathering on the Lord’s Day and the weekly rhythm of rest and communion that we experience on that day. The nuclear family ought to be a place of safety and rest, where burdens are lifted and a freedom to be open that is rooted in a love for one another brings forth the strength and endurance to go about our daily responsibilities. So, too, the gathering of our spiritual family on Sunday, the new covenant Sabbath, the day we mark the defeat of death in the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord and the unity we have in the Spirit of God, is the day we are renewed together, by teaching and admonishment in the gospel of grace as well as by the new familial bonds, greater than all earthly blood. This family shares generously (Acts 2:42–47), bears each other’s burdens, does good, endures with love (Gal. 6:2, 10; Eph. 4:2), and holds fast to our confession of hope. And in view of this blessed hope, we consider how we can stir one another up to love and good works, gathering together and encouraging each other as we eagerly await the coming again of our Lord (Heb. 10:25), ever mindful that God is faithful, by whom we are called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9).