Many things can intrude to interrupt fellowship with God. This is not so much the necessary aspects of this life that we cannot avoid. One great test is whether our thoughts return to God as soon as we are free from such absorbing activities. Whatever distracts and prevents us from experiencing true fellowship with God must cause us sorrow. Such fellowship is indeed what we were made for. Fellowship or communion with God arises from spiritual union with Christ. Without that as the foundation there can never of course be any true fellowship with God. True fellowship is the very purpose of union with Christ. That union can never be broken or hindered but our communion with Christ can be affected. There is no ebb and flow in union with Christ but there may be in our communion with Him. The fact that it will always be imperfect in an imperfect world should not discourage us from seeking closer fellowship but rather stir us up. There is in fact far more to this question than merely our own failure to maintain fellowship with God.
Andrew Gray died at the young age of 23 after a very brief ministry. Despite his youth he had an extraordinary spiritual maturity and understanding of Christian experience. This is how he defines fellowship with God:
“Communion with God is the soul of Christ dwelling in the soul of a Christian by faith, and the soul of a Christian dwelling in the soul of Christ by love”
Gray also says much about why there is not constant fellowship with God in this life. Never-interrupted fellowship and communion with God is a fruit of the land above. There is no constancy in our fellowship with God while we are here below, because of the corruption within us. Cast your eyes up to heaven and long for the day when these shadows will be over. You will then enjoy perfect and full communion with God (Isaiah 30:26). There are various reasons why fellowship with God is interrupted in this life. The following is an updated extract of Andrew Gray’s answers to the question: Why is there no constant fellowship with God in this life?
1. To Make Us Long for Eternity
His people may be stirred up to long for that endless and blessed life. Then time will be swallowed up by eternity and our corruption will put on incorruption, and this vile body of ours will be raised a glorious body. Then eternity will be spent without one moment of interruption. Comfort yourselves in the hope and expectation of the approach of that blessed day, when you will enjoy complete and full communion and fellowship with God. You will be admitted to eat of the apples of the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise of God, of which, once you eat, certainly you will never hunger any more. If we did enjoy one moment of real fellowship and communion with God, surely we should be ready to cry out, “It is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles” (Luke 9:33). Did you ever enjoy fellowship with God so much that you were constrained to long for the day when you will enjoy full fellowship with Him without any interruption? But Christ draws a veil to cover His own face, so that we cannot enjoy Him fully so that we may long for the day when we will see Him as He is, without any veil.
2. To Stir Up Grace Within Us
There is a second reason why God orders it so that the Christian does not have constant fellowship with God here. Some graces in the Christian appear most eminently when they are under such a condition of not knowing where to find Christ. These graces are the grace of faith, the grace of patience, and the grace of love. These three graces would not appear so well if it were not so. We say that stars appear most in darkness. So these graces appear most when the soul is feels the lack of Christ’s presence, not knowing where to find Christ. In this situation, faith is put into activity. It appears most when it lacks light. The graces of patience and love are also put into activity, and shine most brightly in such a sad experience.
3. To Make Us Value Fellowship with God
God orders it in this way so that we may value and esteem communion with Him more highly. The beloved withdrew Himself from the bride so that
she would learn to place a greater value on His presence (Song 5:6).
4. To SHOW that Fellowship is By Free Grace Alone
We must be strongly convinced that is only His free grace toward us that bestows these things on us. Strive more to know that all you receive is from His free love, not for any merit and deserving in us. We have nothing to commend ourselves of but infirmities, but be assured that He with whom we have to do is God, not man.
5. To Show that Nothing in This Life Can Replace Fellowship with God
Everything here below (even the graces of the Spirit) is not sufficient to satisfy the Christian when Christ is away. The bride had the graces of love, faith, seeking, and patience, and much of the grace of hope; yet, there is a He whom she misses (Song 3:1).
Many may sit down in shame and cover their faces, because they do not see the insufficiency of the things of this present world. They are not much in pursuit after Jesus Christ. Most of our pursuit is only after the things of this present life. They do not know what it is to miss Christ, because they never knew what it was to have His presence.
But seeing much of the excellence that is in Jesus Christ makes Christians undervalue all earthly things and all things other than Christ. The excellence that is in Christ Jesus makes the Christian not rest on the graces of the Spirit (though they put a high estimation on them) until they obtain Christ. All our desires ought to be set on He who is uncreated, not on created things. This is clear in Mary’s practice. There is a Him whom she misses and was pursuing after: “they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13). Oh, what will satisfy a Christian’s love, if it is real in his heart? Nothing will satisfy but Jesus Christ, who is the desire of nations, and the bright and morning star.
6. To Show Us Those Who Truly Seek Christ
The evidence of real seeker of God is seen in their feelings when they miss Christ’s fellowship and company. A real seeker of God can give a direct account of Christ’s comings and goings. They can distinguish well between His absence and presence.
7. To Show Us the Perfections of Christ
If we undervalue enjoying Christ it is because we lack faith in the precious, endless and unsearchable perfections that found in Christ. If you knew how glorious how beautiful He is surely you would fall in love with Him and esteem fellowship with Christ more highly. He is lovely and desirable object, altogether lovely and all true spiritual desires are in Him (Song 5:16). Angels and men could not describe such a glorious One but we must lament that He is unknown to many of us. One reason why many have sought and yet have not been heard is because they undervalued the precious manifestations of His grace towards them.
8. To Show Us that God is Sovereign
A Christian may seek things from God and yet not get an answer to their prayers. We will not give the reasons why it is so; we only say that God is wise and righteous in all His doings and knows the reasons for His actions. We conclude that He does all things well (Mark 7:37). Surely, when we will be about to pass over the lintels of the doors of everlasting eternity, when we will be standing on the farthest line of time, ready to step into eternity, we will be constrained to leave on record that He does all things well. We will then be deeply convinced of the fact that He has done all things well.
“All imaginable delight is…to enjoy God. All misery is…to be separated from God” – Andrew Gray
John Owen stresses that fellowship with God involves receiving His grace in His appointed ways and giving to God what He requires.
Our communion with God consists in his communication of himself to us, with our return to him of that which he requires and accepts, flowing from that union which in Jesus Christ we have with him
We can and must cultivate fellowship with Christ. We can grow and deepen in that relationship despite the fact that the blessedness is interrupted in this life. We meet with Him in the Word and prayer and seek to please Him in all things. Any relationship requires commitment and effort, how much more the most important of them all?
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