“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Don’t you just love the Holy Spirit? As Christians, we have the all-powerful, sovereign Spirit of God and of Christ dwelling in us. In fact, you’re not a true believer if the Holy Spirit hasn’t taken up residence within you: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9).
The person of the Holy Spirit acts as the truth illuminator, gift giver and fruit producer in our lives. And he also does much, much more. However, Christians often get so caught up in focusing on the specific roles and activities of the Spirit (not a bad thing to do!), that we neglect the reality that we’re meant to have a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit, as well as with the Father and the Son.
Paul talks here about “fellowship” (Greek word koinōnia) with the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that incredible? The Spirit isn’t a functional, impersonal force that empowers Christians from a distance. No, we’re to have close communion, or partnership, with the Spirit of God. So consider this: the one who hovered over the face of the waters in creation (Genesis 1:2) dwells within you and longs to have fellowship with you. What an astounding truth!
Sadly, though, we often fail to keep in step with the Spirit. Oh, we may say we do. But what about when it comes to ditching certain behaviours or attitudes that the Holy Spirit is convicting us about? Are we shunning them in obedience to God? Or do we not realise that Jesus Christ is in us? (2 Corinthians 13:5). Or maybe we’re looking to close off certain areas of our lives to the permeating influence of the Spirit. Well that was exactly what some in Corinth were doing, not least by allowing divisions to creep in among them.
In fact, Paul urges the Corinthians to “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace…” (2 Corinthians 13:11). So enjoying fellowship with the Spirit should lead to us enjoying fellowship with one another. The relationship we have with God ought to directly impact the relationships we have with other believers. The one Spirit who dwells in the one body should lead to us being of one mind.
Paul makes a similar point in writing to another church that is disunited. Paul entreats Euodia and Syntyche, in Philippians 4:2, to “agree in the Lord”. There were divisions among the Philippian Christians. His solution? He urges them to have the mind of Christ. To act humbly. And again he talks of the fellowship of the Spirit. This is what he writes:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation [fellowship – koinōnia] in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1–2)
We should be amazed that God the Holy Spirit permanently resides in us. We should be in awe that we can enjoy fellowship with the Spirit. But we should also, in endeavouring to enjoy fellowship with the spirit, strive to maintain unity with other believers. If I’m genuinely walking with the Spirit and enjoying sweet communion with him, then a natural outcome should be that I relate well to my brothers and sisters in Christ and enjoy harmonious relationships with them.