My friends and I have been in a season where our supplication, bible study, and praise have been blessed by an upwelling of dreams, visions, and moments of being spontaneously caught up into the Spirit in intercessory prayers that we didn’t necessarily initiate or expect.
During COVID, I’ve had a really great opportunity to connect with Christian sisters who are far away from where I live. I guess I have expanded my definition of distance church to further flung destinations than typical. It’s been a very unique time of understanding what “the Body of Christ” means.
The adaptability that COVID has necessitated has stretched my understanding of community and being involved in church. Before the strange reshaping of church-life caused by the pandemic, I focused on the individual “hand,” “ear,” “eye,” “foot,” “head,” “weaker member” components of the Body in how they are distinct from each other. Even though I knew that Paul’s whole argument is that each member needs the others, my focus was always on which “one” I was. My vision was limited to seeing Paul as arguing that we each have a place and purpose in the Body because there are enough parts for everyone to have a job, rather than that he was arguing that each of us can only operate within the Body in concert.
Not only is one part of the Body never more central than the others, but no part of the Body can even be alive without the others.
I’ve always considered myself a weaker member– indecent and needing special consideration! Yet, in this season it is the dynamics between the members of the body that are being emphasized most to me. In this understanding of the Body and its members, my role in the church is not an identity.
Right now, I find myself in ministry pairs– He sent them out in twos! (Luke 10).
My beautiful friend, Joy is a prayer warrior. She is constantly available to intercede with a sensitive spirit. We work like arteries and veins together. When she has a word or vision in prayer, the Lord will give me a confirmation or interpretation for her. When I discern a spirit or have a dream, I give it to her to take to the throne room in prayer. The same Spirit is giving gifts to both of us, and they are gifts that require a companion to be meaningful and useful (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
Aimee operates in praise. She is moved in this season to encourage and see the goodness of God. When we are together, I tend toward truth-telling, and she builds me up in my call to do that. She checks the sharp edge of my truth-telling with the pleasantness of God that she is experiencing and exuding. In this way, she is the trained ear that regulates the tenor of my voice, and I am someone she can count on to sound out the Word clearly. Revelation 19:10 says that the essence of prophecy is to speak the gospel with clarity– a clear witness.
All the way across the world, in New Zealand, my friend Julia, who I have not seen in over a decade, pastors a church. As a leader, she is bombarded with spirits to discern between! It seems that in this time, God puts a Bible teaching on my heart and mind at the same exact time that the Berean call is being stirred up in Julia to judge between truth and lie on that same subject. There is a flow and homeostasis between us that keeps both of us spiritually unpolluted.
These three are women who I have known for a decade or more each. I met each of them in specific moments and seasons in my history– not necessarily good ones. They each first met a different version of my carnal self as I wandered down my pilgrim’s road. None of us has avoided prodigal moments. But by faith we know now what will be actualized in the future– we are saved, redeemed, sanctified, and set apart for God’s use. And we view each other through eyes of faith: as we will be, not just as we are.
Joy, Aimee, and Julia have never met, yet we are in church together every day through texts and Facebook messenger, and prayers passed from one of us to the other, ideas passed from one of us to the other. We gather together through faith as we step up with some trepidation to say, “Sister, I think the Lord is saying… I sense the Lord moving in this way… I feel that this scripture carries this word for today… I hear your burden, let me pray for you now… Stand in your conviction.” With great bravery, we share our innermost spiritual experiences, and in so doing,
the fingers move with the hand and the arm in response to the nerves and are enlivened by the heart’s blood.
The Christian faith is interpersonal. Our relationships must be safeguarded. Forgiveness and reconciliation has primacy in the church politic because the Spirit gives gifts to be shared. He gives the key to one person, the lock to another, and the diary to a third.
If God has given me a dream to give to Julia for interpretation, and then on to Joy to commit it to prayer, and then I’ll need to run to Aimee for confidence once the enemy gets on my case for being obedient in sharing within the Body what I was given; and that confidence I reflect back to Julia and Joy…how can any of that happen if there is an unresolved breech in my relationship with one of them?
Division doesn’t just diminish the work of the Spirit within our churches, it deadlocks it.