The Assault on Fellowship
by T. Austin-Sparks
There are few matters which go to the heart of the Lord's testimony more than the matter of fellowship between the Lord's people… and especially where there is particular responsibility for His testimony. The drive of the enemy and all his subtle and diabolical wit, as well as his pressure and his misrepresentations, will be directed toward destroying that relationship of fellowship. He will seek somehow to divide believers and to get in between.
And if you are not careful, you will resolve all such matters into merely natural problems and say: "Well, it is incompatibility of temper! So-and-so is made this way, and the other person is made that way; you can never blend people who are so different in temperament and outlook!"
If you allow a conclusion of that kind, your testimony is gone; you may as well abandon your position in the Lord and go and scour the world for people who in everything see eye to eye. Does it mean that the Lord's work, as entrusted to two or three or more together in one place, can only continue in so far as these children of His are able at all times to get on with one another on a natural basis? The Lord help His work if that is what is required.
We have to look deeper than that. This drive on fellowships and relationships is Satanic. There may be ground – there may be human elements – but those concerned should take this attitude toward one another: The Lord's testimony is bound up with our oneness; the devil will do everything he can to destroy that… and to strike a blow, therefore, at the testimony! You and I are going to be one in the Name of the Lord and stand our ground against the enemy!
There we have something altogether different from the attempt to get on with one another on a natural basis; we have a dynamic for fellowship. We have to get on with one another in the Name of the Lord, or else the Lord's testimony is not established.
There is something much bigger than a natural or human situation to be dealt with. When we realize that back of what may truly be natural difficulties there is always something else at work… and that therefore we must keep these natural things in the place of the Cross and stand together against the enemy, we will get through. But we will never do so by spending a lot of time trying to adjust ourselves to one another… and seeing how far we can work together.
Standing shoulder to shoulder against the enemy who is assailing fellowship, we will find the way of triumphant fellowship. Come down on the natural level, and the enemy will soon make terrible havoc of the whole relationship.
Remember then that all these things which sometimes seem to be so natural are in principle deeper down, and the activity of the enemy is behind them in his seeking to circumvent that gain, that advance, that increase, that attaining unto dominion… and he must be withstood in these matters.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Jan-Feb 1937, Vol 15-1