But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7—NIV)

People who otherwise do not give the time of day to one another will generally associate when something held in common is celebrated. Case in point, grown siblings will gather for Thanksgiving or Christmas, then, having failed to embrace relational depth which would naturally serve to intertwine them, they separate without a second thought until the next revolution around the sun. This can also be true in the comings and goings of every other human relationship. You may see this at work, at school, at committee meetings, at charity events, or what have you. You may even observe some marriages coexisting this way.

The same is often true when professed Christians bump into one another, unintentionally, while going about the business of life, or intentionally, while attending the same church. As long as there is a common interest for both parties there is a measure of fellowship, but when the clock strikes the hour the fellowship evaporates.

John’s epistle serves as a challenge to professed believers to behave on a distinctly different level. His theme is "fellowship." He wrote the book to convince the reader to review certain spiritual touch points designed to prove whether he is included among the saved or is yet isolated among the eternally condemned. He points out that one’s inclusion is often ascertained by reviewing his relationships with the redeemed around him (unity in Christ). This activity is a vital role of the community of believers.

Authentic, Christian fellowship is nothing if it is not partnership. Its root meaning is holding something in common. Other concepts found in the word include the idea of partaking in, participating in, sharing in and sharing from. It can be translated "society" or "union." It is indicative of someone being identified with a common cause and a vested interest in the success of the cause, not as a recipient only, but also as a primary part of what the union has to offer. "Full partner" may carry the fullest sense of the meaning.

The part other believers play in assuring you that you are in the faith is the foundation of John’s first chapter. He states the unparalleled privilege that was his to have been in the presence of the "Word of Life" as He taught, ministered, died and rose from the grave. He then invites the reader to be a partner in this fellowship, which is in fact a fellowship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. Being included in such a partnership leads to joy in all its eternal and temporal fullness (1 John 1:1–4).

Verses 5–7 teach that this invitation to fellowship (partnership) is of such a value as to be worthy of testing. Are you in the "light?" God is light, those who are in partnership with Him will walk in light and find that they are in fellowship (partnership) with those who are also partakers of the light.

This partnership is not one which lends itself to mere acquaintance or toleration only at stated service times, or church fellowship dinners. In fact, the genuine truth of partnership ought to change the way we view church fellowships, church membership, and Christian identity. Like John, churches should be about the business of inviting people into the world of the church body so that the newcomers may ascertain whether they are "walking in the light" among the saints.

Are you "missional" about your church membership? Do you know the value of Christians sharpening you spiritually toward greater obedience? Do you seek to invest yourself in the vital role of the church body in aiding others to know whether they are born again? Where does your citizenship lie? Trust and obey.