“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,” (Philippians 1:3-5)
It would be impossible to count the number of people we meet along life’s journey. Most encounters last only for a short period of time; yet there are other encounters that we will never forget. I am sure that many of us have had friends that we will never forget.
What causes such deep friendships? Paul described these friendships as a ‘partnership’, or as it is translated in the King James Version – ‘fellowship.’ I once heard the word fellowship described as ‘two fellows in the same ship.’ For a friendship to be enduring, there has to be a sense of camaraderie and the opportunity to share things that perhaps we share with few others. There is also a sense of oneness in our philosophy of living, as well as mutual support and encouragement. To refer back to our definition of fellowship – we become close friends because we are two fellows in the same ship, headed for the same shore, and willing to help each other along the way.
Paul thanked God for the Philippians, and especially for their ‘fellowship in the gospel.’ Such fellowship included their salvation. The book of Acts teaches us that it was Paul and Silas who first brought the gospel to Philippi. Paul was a spiritual father to many of them. This fellowship in the gospel also included their prayers and words of encouragement. And as we see a little later in the book of Philippians, it included their financial and material support.
Though Paul was a very courageous man, he was also human. At times the Roman prison must have seemed like perilous waters, and from his letter to the Philippians we see that he found great comfort in knowing that these dear friends were still with him. Though they were separated physically by a great distance, spiritually speaking they were still ‘two fellows together in the same ship.’
Brethren, we need each other. We need each other’s prayer and encouragement. We need each other’s support and inspiration. There will be times when some of us will grow weary and discouraged; therefore, we need to know that there is someone else with us in this journey. Of all the things you and I may accomplish in life, perhaps nothing will surpass our willingness to sail with others in the gospel ship.