In Ethiopian culture, the traditional way of serving food is on a large, shared platter. In contrast to a typical American restaurant, where each person gets their own customized dish, the Ethiopian way is that everybody shares everything.
If you went to an Ethiopian restaurant here is South City, St Louis, you wouldn’t get an individual plate (unless you asked for it—they’re gracious hosts). You wouldn’t get your own silverware. You’d get a stack of flat, spongy bread and use that to take turns with your fellows, scooping up bites from the shared platter.
The Ethiopian style of eating is a good picture of the Biblical word fellow•ship. When people share life and depend on each other, that’s fellowship. Rather than valuing privacy and independence, biblical fellowship is made possible by a bond of self-giving love.
In the New Testament, there’s a letter written by John, one of Jesus’ first followers. John was part of a close-knit group that spent three years with Jesus, but then all abandoned him when he was arrested and crucified. There were many groups like these in First Century Israel. Whenever their leader got arrested and crucified by the Romans—this happened frequently—the group disbanded and looked for someone else to follow.