I believe our deepest desire for oneness and intimacy in relationships can only be met on a spiritual level. Although there is much to explore and discover on an emotional, and psychological level, the most neglected connection is a spiritual one. Our Spiritual connection is also our eternal bond, the permanency we all seek in intimate relationships.
God is a relational God, as revealed in the mystery of the Trinity. We do not worship three Gods, but one God. Yet He is revealed to us in three different distinct persons, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Oneness or unity originates from the Triune Godhead: Jesus said: “I and My Father are one!” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and therefore He is in unison with God the Father and God the Son. The most profound prayer in the Bible is the one where God the Son, speak and pray to God the Father. It is God speaking His desire to Himself, that we would be one with Him as He is one with the Father and the Spirit. (Joh 17:21b) Unity brings peace and tranquillity into a group. Unity draws the presence of God onto the scene. The blessings of God include protection and prosperity to all who are part of that unit. The Greek word ‘homothumadon’ means to be ‘one mouthed’. The Hebrew word for unity is ‘yachad’ and it refers to a unit or a commando group.
God created two pathways for us to attain the unity and oneness that exists in the Godhead: Marriage and Church.
Today we see various models of ‘church,’ both historical and modern. What seems to be very rare is a spiritual expression of “church,” a manifestation thereof that goes beyond the church member cards and orientation programs; the superficial get-to-know-one-another-better functions and large crowds gathering to attend various special programs. These activities and program have its benefits, but we seek a deeper connection. Remember, the church is a spiritual entity! God is a Spirit and wants to be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth. The church should be more than just activities, programs, and buildings.
The Spirituality of church ultimately means: How spiritual are the members? A simple biblical definition of Christian maturity is to grow into the likeness of the character and life of Jesus Christ. The spiritual maturity of church members is thus determined by how much they do and act like Jesus. The same applies to the two partners in a Marriage Covenant relationship. The oneness we seek in marriage can be obstructed when one partner is not saved. If both are saved, often they attend different churches, making spiritual union difficult and strained. It is thus imperative for a spiritual union to take place that couples attend the same church, both take the same Bible courses together, to remain in spiritual sync else the one can Spiritually outgrow the other.
God commands His blessings where brothers dwell together in unity. Ps 139. Unity is one of the most important keys to create an atmosphere where God reveals His manifest Presence. Like in the book of Acts, powerful things happened to the church when they were together in unity, of one mind, heart and soul.
Acts 1:14 Early apostolic gathering – continued with one accord
Acts 2:1 they were all with one accord in one place
Acts 2:46 continuing daily with one accord in the temple
Acts 4:32 those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
Acts 5:12 they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch
Acts 8:6 and the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Phillip
UNITY/ONENESS IS A GIFT
Being made righteous in Christ, we are made one with Him. (Rom 7:4; Rom 9:1; 1 Cor 15:22; Eph 3:6, 12, 21; Col 2:6, 10, 11-1; Rev 1:9) According to Eph 4:1-4 We cannot create, or work for unity, we can only preserve the Unity we received as a gift in Christ Jesus. We never want the unity of man. Man build Babel to their own glory, and God had to divide their languages. In the church and marriage, we should always operate and work from this point of unity, the Unity that God gives. Doing this is a fundamental point to consider and understand, especially when one does not feel or experience unity with your partner or friend. We are already one. “What God has joined, let man not separate.” Mat 19:6 Practically it is constructive when we are in disagreement on something, to take one step back, begin in unity, and that what we agree on, before discussing the issue causing the conflict. We do not allow our emotions and carnal mind deceive us into believing we are separate, distant, and isolated. Adam & Eve believed this lie, which when they eat of the fruit, they will be like God. They already were made in His image, had communion and free fellowship with Him, they were already one. They did not have to do anything to become more one.
ONE MIND COMES THROUGH DEVOTING TOGETHER TO STUDY THE WORD.
Dr. Roy M. Gray taught in Miracle Valley, Arizona that unity cannot be created it can only be preserved. He explained that unity comes through the preaching of the Word. The saints are a band of God that is inwardly transformed by the Word of God. Only when the focus is on Christ and His Word, will unity become the standard in the spirit. Dr. André Pelser
The early church devoted themselves daily to Apostolic Doctrine. (Acts 2:42) The Word is a discerner, and when you study the Word prayerfully, it will transform you. (Heb 4:12; 1 Tim 3:16) In this instance doctrine is important to achieve spiritual oneness because one is taught to think right, that will lead to believing right, that leads to right-living. This right-living enforces the bond of unity, whereas when people live as they like, they are carnal minded not spirit-minded making oneness impossible. Unity means to be in one accord or to agree. (Amos 2:3) In the Book of Amos, the prophet asks: “how can two people walk together, except they are in agreement as one?” How can there be a spiritual union, if there is a doctrinal disagreement of beliefs? Study all these NT scriptures referring to being of one mind. (Rom 12:6; 14:5; 15:6; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 2:2; 1 Pet 3:8)
WE EXIST FOR THE SAKE OF ONE ANOTHER, COLLECTIVE MIND.
Paul explains the dynamics of the church using the metaphor of a human body. Remember that in a body there are no dead parts, no passive, inactive members! No spectators. “The kingdom of God come not with observation” Luk 17:20 In a body, every part exists for the sake of the other parts. The human body is a magnificent collective genius of parts functioning as one! Spiritual unity is thus not achieved until you become more conscious of the other than of self. We are not to seek our interests, but the interests of others. (Phil 2:1-11) Moreover, in our pursuit of deepening our spiritual connection, we should become aware of another’s needs as the Spirit reveals it, not because these private needs were made known in usual ways. Spirit-led actions strengthen the bond of unity, building confidence not only in God’s love but in the other person’s sensitivity to hear and obey. (Phil 1:9)
If one member suffers, even slightly, the whole body suffers. (1 Cor 12:26) This verse reveals a collective consciousness. Doubtlessly everyone immediately feels the weight and pressure if one ‘part’ malfunctions. For the body to operate efficiently, each person in the group must serve! In the body of Christ, we have equal care for the house of God. (1 Cor 12:25) Each one serves according to his/her level of faith, expertise, internal natural gifting, and grace. This spiritual union is proof of how God intended His body to function supernaturally. Look at this beautiful poetry as Paul define the operation of a church as a body. “Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:14-16)
KNOW ANOTHER BY THE SPIRIT
For any deep relationship to develop, we need to know one another in the spirit. Judging people by their cover is a common problem in the world, but it ought not to be so in the True Church. When I grew up, our church had “get-to-know-one-another” events, usually after the Sunday evening service. I believe most people only came for the snacks and cake! Is it possible to get to know someone by casually chatting 10 minutes after the church service? Some suggest that you get to know a person by working with him or her; however, this is not altogether true either for many people portray a different persona in the workplace. Another suggestion is to undertake a hike or to experience a crisis together. There is truth in this, but does this mean that we all have to have some shared crisis before we get to know a person? Surely not! The way of the spirit is more accurate and also quicker! Jesus knew the heart of Nathaniel even before he had met him. (John 1:47) Similarly, the Lord revealed to Ananias not only the change in Saul (Paul) but also his destiny before he met him. (Acts 9:10) Jesus knew what was in the Pharisees’ hearts. Jesus knew the woman at the well in the spirit. (John 4) Imagine a church where people know each other in the spirit, where everyone knows their place and function, and naturally work together without complaining and strife because they do not feel threatened by one another.
FELLOWSHIP IN HIS SUFFERING
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Philippians 3:10) The word ‘know’ at the beginning of this verse means to know firsthand, to have proof of, to be entirely sure. Paul’s desire is to know God personally and intimately. But, in the same sentence, he explains that this knowledge of God is to have fellowship in His sufferings – note the word sufferings is in the plural! There is nothing that binds people together more than facing trouble together. Paul goes a step further; we should conform to His death. This word, “summorphos”, means: to take on the same form and likeness of someone. We should, therefore, live in the same manner as Jesus did, because He gave His life in obedience to the Father. We should too, daily and in every circumstance be willing to deny self and surrender, yielding in obedience completely to Him. This attitude and lifestyle of every person in the group become the adhesive that unites us on a higher level. In serving one another, we lay down our lives for each other. Joh 15:13
The understanding of Spiritual fellowship also gives us a whole new perspective on our personal suffering. Like Paul, we know that our suffering is to the benefit of the body, and therein we fulfill the sufferings of Christ. (Col 1:24) For example, being publically corrected is humiliating. Nevertheless, by receiving it positively personal growth is established, and everyone learns.
In the discussion of the first principle, I have used biblical examples of how people were brought together, not by circumstance, but by Divine guidance, e.g. Ananias and Paul. Another example is Peter and Cornelius. (Acts 10) Phillip was divinely led to meet the servant of the court of Ethiopia. (Acts 8:26) A spiritual church is also a spiritually connected church! It even goes beyond this. In Paul’s letter to Philemon (with whom he has a good relationship), Paul asked Philemon to accept Onesimus, his former slave as a brother. His relationship with Philemon was the stepping stone to introduce Onesimus. This example provides us with a powerful insight into the spiritual mechanisms of the church. For instance: I call on my friend Johan in Cape town, asking if he knows someone in the printing industry… one of his friends owns such a business. By linking us, Johan acts as the catalyst and originator of a new relationship. Without knowing each other, Johan’s friend, and I begin our relationship on a deeper level, due to our common friend, Johan.
We need much integrity concerning this methodology. Looking in the spirit is the way that the Spirit helps us to interact and relate on multiple levels.
MAKING YOURSELF PRESENT ALTHOUGH NOT PHYSICALLY PRESENT.
Although Paul was not present in the flesh, he was present in the spirit. (Col 2:5) This means church goes beyond the parameters of meetings and address lists. This is not an excuse for not meeting or attending church services. However, it does imply that if I have revealed my heart and is in unity with a group, I can physically be far away and still be one with that group. On the other hand, if I take offense and become bitter towards the group, and thus choose not to attend any further meetings, I’m not only cut off physically but spiritually as well. A while ago Chantál attended a Conference in America and was away for 21 days. She shared her notes with me every day, and she could follow what was happening at home base via our Church app. We experienced a wonderful spiritual union during this time, by making an effort of being present in one another’s lives. In this way, people who cannot attend meetings regularly can stay present by following and keeping tabs on Social Media. The opposite is also true, some people live in the same house, but they are not present in each other’s life. They have already turned their hearts away from the other, and will eventually separate and divorce.
Becoming more and more spiritually one is a wonderful gift and provision God has made for us, as revealed through Jesus. He often said and declared His oneness with the Father. It was this union that gave Him the power, authority and right to do what He has done, while on earth. God wants our churches and marriages to experience this same spiritual union, so that the World can believe in the Son, whom He has sent. Joh 17:21