- What unifies us? Visibly? The Spirit.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph 4:1–6
The Spirit unites us by transforming us more into Christ-likeness
- As you and I become more Christlike, we get closer to Jesus, and therefore each other.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2Cor 3:17–18)
- Our unity is improved and developed and deepened as we all become more like Jesus. The Spirit is the one who enables this.
- If we have this connection it’s like Paul is saying, “You cannot not be transformed.”!
“It is the triumph of the grace and power of God reproducing through the Spirit the beauty of Christ in lives which are outwardly decaying and disintegrating through their connection with the world which is ‘passing away’. Only the grace of God is kind enough and the power of God strong enough to achieve this transformation in our broken and darkened lives.” Barnett, Paul W. The Message of 2 Cor. The Bible Speaks Today.
What is the result?
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1Thess 4:3–8
- We live differently because we have the Spirit – not because we share same values, have church ‘standards’
- This produces fruit…
““Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.” Matt 7:15–20
- Fruit is an indication of whether we are holding to correct ‘doctrine’.
- True for individuals & congregations
- “Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells, empowers, and gifts us for new life in Christ…. Transformation is the goal of God’s agenda” Hicks
- It is a Christ-likeness project
- We are transformed by the presence of the indwelling Spirit.
- When we bring God’s Spirit into communion with each other, it enhances the Spirit’s power to transform us personally and collectively.
- Having this same spiritual goal and the same experience of the Spirit’s power and work unites us in a way that simply having a common material goal never could.
The effect on us?
- See the work of the Spirit on the church in Acts – growth through disturbance
What does this mean for our congregational communities?
- Dare to talk with one another about what we see the Spirit doing (trying to do) in us and one another
- Have spiritual conversations along the lines of, “I see the Spirit doing……in you.” “What can you see the Spirit doing in me?”
- “How can I support the work of the Spirit in you?”
- “What is the Spirit doing in our congregation?”
- “In what way is the Spirit growing us to produce which fruits, as a congregation?”
- In what way does it help your unity with fellow-believers to know that you are all being transformed by the Spirit towards greater Christ-likeness?
- What helps your transformation into Christ-likeness by the Spirit?
- What is your part in supporting others as they journey into greater Christ-likeness by the Spirit?
- The Spirit unites us by our mutual transformation into Christ-likeness
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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God bless, Malcolm