Monday, September 8, 2014

Tied together in the Spirit

Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a mannerworthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Introduction to the idea of "tied together in the Spirit"
There is an interesting phenomenon that I have experienced over the course of my Christian life and ministry - a unique work wrought by the Spirit of God whereby He ties two or more people together in unity - a phenomena that I call "tied together in the Spirit". It amazes me how I will on rare occassions run across a man of God, regardless of station or social standing in life, I have never met, that within minutes we become "tied together" in a life long ministry friendship. 

The Lord over the years has given me such Godly men, such "ties", whereby that man and me are as David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:17 "Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life." As you scan the scriptures, you witness other such "tyings": Jesus and the Apostle John, Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy, Peter and Mark. 

When the Spirit of God brings together God's people in this fashion, it is a ministry partnership that is never broken by time nor distance. Sometimes the "tying together" expresses itself as a brotherhood, a spiritual father and spiritual son in the faith (Like Paul and Timothy). You and I cannot manufacture nor predict when nor how the Spirit of God will do it. In my life, He has placed me in contact with men whose personality differed greatly from my own, and yet we meshed like gears in a clock. 

Personal examples of how the Spirit of God has "tied me" to other believers over the years
At times when I have needed spiritual parenting in my life, God has placed an older couple in my life. One such couple, whose names will remain anonymous, function in such a capacity. I can call upon them to pray for me, and they do. Its as if we have never apart when I call. At other times God has placed men of God who have been like a big brother to me. A dear pastor friend, whose word and bond and advice has helped me see my blind spots, is the closest thing I have to a big brother (apart from Jesus in the flesh, my "Elder Brother").
There is one man of God who functions for me like a mentor of sorts. His personality is different from mine, and yet we have a bond that can only be explained as a "tying together in the Spirit". 

There is another man of God, a younger man, whom I look at as a younger brother in the faith. He and I can talk about the things of God, give a big bear hug and intuitively know whenever God is prompting one another to pray for the other man. 

I could go on and on. This work of the Spirit of God is a work that only He can do. I cannot predict when or how He will do it. All I know is that this is His working, not my own, and I thank Him for it. 

When a church is "tied together in the Spirit"
Now imagine such a work operating at a church wide level. Whenever Paul writes what he does in Philippians 1:27 and 2:2 above, I believe he is speaking of an entire church-body being "tied-together" in the Spirit. I have only ever witnessed this reality on a handful of occassions. 

To see an entire church operating as "one-person" is something which no man, no organization, no society can replicate. When a church is tied together in the fashion described by Paul, the bond is virtually indestrucible. The ministry level of that church will exceed size and geographical limitations. If that church body is committed to loving one another as Jesus prescribed in John 13:34-35 and if they are all about the Gospel, not grieving the Spirit and intercession for one another, the said phenomena of "tied together in the Spirit" will occur. The boyhood church at which I was saved was one such church. What unity. What fervency for God and genuine concern for one another. I could tell of a handfull of other churches I have seen over the years, but I must hasten. 

Such a reality in the Christian world is desired, and even commanded (as we see here in Philippians). But it comes at a very high cost, one of which many of us is unwilling to pay? The cost? Self. Lest we die to our agendas, ourselves - we will never witness what it means to be "tied together in the Spirit" across churches, denominations or as a people of God. When the wonderous life of the Risen Christ, His Word, His Spirit exceeds whatever life we perceive we need to make for ourselves, only then can the Spirit of God have free course to mend fences, heal hearts and purge us of fear.  May we strive and pray for God to "knit us together", "tie us together".

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