The Beauty of Fellowship

I had a lengthy discussion last week with a gentleman about online worship vs. in person worship.  Our conversation was about the importance of being together – and I urge people to participate in worship in person as soon as they are comfortable doing so.  He said to me, “This is not really the way it should be, but I feel like you are going to have to sell the value of fellowship to people.”

Fellowship with others is vitally important.  Our Creator hard-wired us to be with others.  And, not only to be with them, but to have deep, lasting, fulfilling relationships.  Those relationships are greatly enhanced when we are in person with one another at church.

I want to share with you a blog, written by Tim Philpot, that was published by the Links Players.  That’s a golf blog.  The ironic thing is that I am the furthest thing from a golfer you will ever find, but the insights are spot on.  Rick Kessler periodically sends me the Links Players blog, and I appreciate it. I think you will gain a greater appreciation for how much we need each other.

ALL ALONE

There was a man all alone… (Ecclesiastes 4:7, NIV)

Golf started for me at age 10 when the Little League baseball season ended around July 1 and my mother needed me out of the house. She dropped me off at a par-3 course, where I would play upwards of 100 holes a day with my baseball grip and rental clubs. As I recall, two dollars got me a putter, 9-iron, 7-iron, 5-iron and 3-iron, plus a play-all-day pass. On most days, I played alone.

I can still feel the pencil in my hand, marking down scores for each hole. I fell in love with numbers and the scorecard.

If no one was behind me, I would play a friendly match between two balls. Spalding Dot vs. Titleist in the opening semifinals. Hogan vs. Wilson Staff in the nightcap. No one ever knew the high drama of these matches. The finals became an instant classic in my ten-year-old brain as I lay in bed at night going over the ups and downs of the day.

I loved golf for many reasons. The sweet smell of the spring mowed grass. The feeling in the hands of a well-struck iron. The beauty of a putt evaporating into the hole. Even the possibility of a hole-in-one.

One fine day I smoked a 3-iron to the longest hole, 120 yards, and when the ball disappeared on the green for a hole-in-one, the angels in heaven rejoiced. Or did they?

I was all alone. Did it really happen? Ten-year-old little boys can be notorious liars.

However, by the end of that first summer, the joy of playing golf alone disappeared. It became meaningless with no one to share the experience.

Friendship is not just to share joy, but also to share sorrow.

King Solomon knew well that life alone can be meaningless as well

I saw something meaningless under the sun. There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business! (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8, NIV)

Even kings know that no matter how much wealth or power we possess, it is misery if we are all alone. Even life’s hole-in-one successes can be depressing when no one is there to share the good times.

But there is a solution. “Two are better than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT), Solomon wrote. The idea gets bigger in one of his most well-known proverbs: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT).

Golf is the perfect game to build the true friendships we all need. Eighteen holes is only five minutes of actually hitting the golf ball. The four hours is filled with walking (or riding) and talking. All with potential friends, who provide friendly competition or, even better, true companionship. On and off the golf course.

Conversations that start on the course often finish in the clubhouse or in late night phone calls when someone has a crisis. Indeed, friendship is not just to share joy, but also to share sorrow.

Solomon again: “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT).

Friends are for the good times but even more needed in the tough times.

Solomon was right. Two are better than one.

Tim Philpot

PRAYER

Thank the Lord for the close friends he has given to you and for the lessons you have learned from each. Ask him to continue forming you as a friend who can be counted on when others have needs or just want to share their joy with you.

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