One of the things I love about reading the Bible is that you can read the same verse, chapter and book a hundred times, and each time you can walk away with something different the Spirit wants you to learn. Today, I want to focus on a section of scripture that doesn’t usually show up in results for Bible verses on fellowship and community. Romans 12:12
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For years, I’ve read Romans 12:12 as a very individualized verse. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” NIV
This seems fairly straight forward. I’m supposed to be joyful in my own hopes and dreams. I’m supposed to be patient in my personal afflictions. I need to stay faithful in my individual prayer life.
Plus, if you read chapter 12 quickly and take it at face value, it can feel like Paul is simply listing a litany of commands that we are to obey individually.
- Don’t be conformed to this world
- Don’t think too highly of yourself
- Discover what gift you’ve been given
- Love one another
- Serve the Lord
- Help others
- Bless your enemies
- Live peaceably with all
- Leave wrath to God
- Overcome evil with good
However, when you pull back and take a big picture view, what is chapter 12 actually talking about?
Relationship and fellowship.
What does the Bible say about the importance of fellowship?
Relationship with God, yes. But more-so, fellowship with others.
Chapter 12 is a guidebook to how to relate to each other in a Godly manner. It’s the building blocks to treating each other well as a community of believers, and non-believers.
So, with that in mind, what does verse 12 actually communicate? Are we supposed to only “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” on an individually level?
Or, is this an encouragement to us to rely on each other in these ways as well?
Transforming Community into Fellowship
Galatians 6:1-3 says,
Galatians 6: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.”
Carrying each other’s burdens looks a lot like being joyful in hope, together. Being patient in affliction, together. And being faithful in prayer, together.
So while this may be applicable to us in our own personal lives, it is also a challenge to us to not live in a self-imposed bubble.
To be humble enough to bring our hopes, afflictions and prayer needs to others to help bear the burden.
And on the flip side, we are to be that person for others when they need it.
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of humility and being willing to bear other’s burdens when He came as a lowly baby with the sole purpose of showing us what relationship means by carrying our sins to the cross.
Willingness to Participate in Fellowship & Community
So today’s encouragement is to be a person willing to be an active part of community. To be the patient person others can come to for hope and prayer.
And to be willing to humble yourself to ask for it in return.
This is what transforms community into fellowship. The willingness to participate.
To have an open heart towards others’ needs, with the express intent to care for them and guide them back to Jesus as their ultimate answer.
It is more than just listening and praying for solutions. It is the continual and gentle course correction back to a central focus on communion and relationship with Jesus as our source of comfort, joy and hope.
This is how we corporately and individually are able to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
10 Bible Verses on Fellowship and Community
While I only focused on taking a different perspective on Romans 12:12 today, there are countless Bible verses on fellowship and community to learn from.
Here are my favorites. I’d encourage you to take one verse a day and read it within the context of the chapter(s) surrounding it to really get the full picture of what God has for you in these verses.
- Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:8-10
- Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:1-2
- And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16
- Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psalm 133:1, 3
- May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Cor. 13:14
- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Cor. 6:14
- Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV
- Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10
- Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
- Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Gal. 6:1-3
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