Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

The Priority Of Oneness

When I finished up the final preparations for a wedding ceremony recently, I concluded with some simple thoughts that I wanted to share with the couple. In the midst of this important and exciting season of their lives, how could I add value to their new relationship that would hopefully sustain them for the years ahead? I settled on this concept: The Priority of Oneness.

Here are the general thoughts I shared with them:

We discussed when we met together the Bible definition of marriage. It comes in the very first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, details of how God created brought together, and joined in marriage the first two people, Adam and Eve.

In the book of Genesis, chapter 2 the Bible defines marriage this way:

24 A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

{Genesis 2:24}

So marriage is when a man and woman leave behind their individual, distinct lives and come and are joined together into one new life. The Bible defines marriage as when God takes two individuals and unites them into one new entity.

I want us to think about the importance of oneness.

Recently as I was reading the Bible, and I came upon a verse from the Letter of Philippians. As I pondered it, I thought that it is a perfect description of the meaning of oneness. It read as follows:

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.{Philippians 1:27}

The Apostle Paul writes and he says that we are to live here on earth as citizens of heaven. I think that in marriage, and in daily life, we are to live to bring a little bit of heaven down to earth.

And then Paul says we are to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of the good news of Jesus Christ. The good news of Jesus Christ is a message of reconciliation, renewal, redemption, and restoration. To conduct marriage in a manner worthy of the good news of Jesus Christ means every day to live lives embodying reconciliation, redemption, renewal, and restoration. We seek to live life in such a way that people see the renewing, redeeming, restoring, reconciling, power of Jesus Christ at work daily in life, and in marriage.

Perhaps the most important part of this verse occurs when Paul writes that the way we embody the good news of Jesus Christ is that from this day forward you are to “stand together, with one spirit and one purpose” {Philippians 1:27}.

That’s what it means to have oneness! It means from this day forward standing together with one spirit one purpose—living out the good news of Jesus Christ in daily life and marriage!

Oneness requires prioritization. It means that before everything else, you have to put God first. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” {Matthew 6:33}.

We put God first because God is the One who brings us together, who joins you together, and who keeps you together. Secondly we make our spouse a priority. In the Gospel of Mark (8:36), Jesus said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Jesus said what good does it do you if you gain everything the world has to offer if you neglect the important things in your life in the process? Maybe Jesus would say that it would be better for us to neglect to the whole world rather than to neglect each other. Maybe Jesus would say it like this when it comes to marriage: “What good would it be if you were to gain every thing the world had offer but you neglected your marriage?” I like to think about it this way: “God is first. My spouse is next. I am last.”

Oneness requires unselfishness. The world of athletics helps here. One of the famous sayings and sports is, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Another saying goes: “The goal is more important than the role.” But my favorite one of all is: “The ‘we’ is more important than the ‘me!’” Unselfishness says “Whenever I put the ‘we” before ‘me,’ in the long run the ‘me’ is a whole lot happier.”

Oneness requires forgiveness. The beauty of marriage is it offers many opportunities to practice forgiveness! Accordingly, marriage also offers plenty of opportunities to ask for forgiveness. The Bible states in the book of Ephesians: “…Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” {Ephesians 4:32}

A key to oneness is to forgive each other like God, through Jesus Christ, has forgiven us. How does Jesus forgive us? He forgives us willingly, freely, completely, selflessly, and sacrificially. He calls us—he expects us—to forgive each other in the same way.

Oneness requires enjoying every moment. A familiar portion of the traditional wedding vows include the words, “in richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.”

I think what that means is simply this: you are to live, and to love, and to enjoy each and every moment of life together. You don’t want to wait and just enjoy the moments only when we get richer; when we get healthier; or when things are better—the time to enjoy life is now!

There is always the temptation to say when things get a little better, then we will enjoy each other, or when we get through this hard time, then we will enjoy each other, but I think what God would have us do is live into, and enjoy every moment of life together whether it’s “better or worse, whether it’s richer or poorer, whether it’s sickness or health.” There’s no better moment to live life to the fullest, and to love one another, than this moment right now!

The Bible captures this idea so well in Proverbs 15:17: “A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.”

The Bible says it’s better to live in the moment, and enjoy the moment, even if all you have is a bowl of vegetables!

The Bible says that we are to live our lives with one spirit and one purpose standing together in oneness. So what we do to strengthen our oneness?

Here are a few simple thoughts: Put God first. We worship together. Pray together. Serve together. Keep short accounts with each other. Forgive quickly. Exercise together. Play together.

And remember what Paul says in Philippians: “That not only do you stand together in one spirit and one purpose, but you fight together the faith of the good news of Jesus Christ!”

Always remember to fight life’s battles together with each other, not against each other. Remember from this day forward you are always on the same team. It is the two of you and Jesus Christ fighting together the battles of life. And when the two of you fight together for the faith of the good news of Jesus Christ along with the presence and power of Jesus himself, you make a very formidable team!

Remember the priority of oneness: you will never be as strong by yourself, as you will be when you are united together!

Remember also the Apostle Paul’s message: “Stand together united in one spirit and purpose; and fight together to live out your faith in the good news of Jesus Christ.”

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