The fellowship of life has two aspects: the vertical aspect (our fellowship with God as the Spirit) and the horizontal aspect (our fellowship with the fellow brothers and sisters in spirit). The same unique divine fellowship is both vertical and horizontal, and the issue of this fellowship is that we keep the oneness of the Body of Christ and we are in the reality of the Body.
Just as the flow of blood keeps the oneness in our human body, so the fellowship of life keeps the oneness in the Body of Christ and keeps every member in the reality of the Body.
We need to be diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace, because there’s one Body and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling (Eph. 4:2-4). The oneness of the Body of Christ is the Spirit Himself, not our arrangement, agreement, or outward unity. When we enjoy the Spirit through the exercise of our human spirit, we keep the oneness of the Body and we live in the reality of the Body of Christ.
Practically, this means that we need to take care of our fellowship with the Lord vertically and our fellowship with the saints horizontally, and we need to allow these aspects of the divine fellowship to intertwine, criss-cross.
We can enter into the vertical aspect of the divine fellowship by the divine Spirit – the Holy Spirit; today God is in Christ as the Spirit, and we need to fellowship with God by the Spirit through the exercise of our spirit. Specifically, we fellowship with God in our loving Him!
We enter into the horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship by the human spirit, which means that whenever we meet with the saints we need to exercise our spirit and love the saints!
Our fellowship with God and our fellowship with the believers are not two separate things; rather, they intertwine, being interwoven together as a “net” of the divine fellowship. As we fellowship with the Lord, we are brought into a sweet fellowship with the saints; as we fellowship with the saints through the exercise of our spirit, we are brought into a deeper fellowship with the Lord.
If we have a proper vertical and horizontal fellowship, we are mended in life, and the net of the church is strong and full of life, expressing God and keeping all the saints in oneness.
The Vertical Fellowship: by the Divine Spirit and through Loving the Lord
There are two aspects of the divine fellowship: the vertical aspect and the horizontal aspect. We enter into the vertical aspect of the divine fellowship by the divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit (see 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 Tim. 2:22). The Spirit Himself is the divine fellowship, and everything about the divine fellowship is involved, wrapped up, and mingled with the Spirit.
The fellowship in the Body of Christ is the Spirit Himself flowing in us and among us, just as the current of electricity is the electricity in motion. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit Himself moving in us, brings us the love of God the Father and the enjoyment of the grace of God the Son.
Our fellowship with the Lord is our loving Him. God has poured out His love in our heart through His Spirit (through the divine fellowship, see Rom. 5:5). Now we are both commanded to love the Lord with all our being and from within we have a love for the Lord rising up in us whenever we fellowship with Him.
Our fellowship with the Lord, who is the life-giving Spirit today, is experienced through our loving Him. Loving the Lord involves enjoying Him, appreciating Him, fellowshipping with Him, being one with Him, and even becoming Him.
We simply cannot say that we have fellowship with the Lord and yet we don’t love Him. Rather, whenever we exercise our spirit to contact God the Spirit, the love of God is being poured out into our heart constantly to love Him and to love the saints.
Lord Jesus, we treasure our time of fellowship with You as the Spirit, opening to You and allowing You to infuse us with all the riches of Your being. We want to maintain our fellowship with You by the divine Spirit in our spirit. Lord, we love You! Thank You for pouring out Your love in our heart through the Holy Spirit. Draw us to love You more and love the brothers! May we maintain our fellowship with You by opening to You, loving You, fellowshipping with You, appreciating You, and being one with You!
The Horizontal Fellowship: by the Human Spirit and through Loving the Saints
We enter into the horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship by means of our human spirit (Phil. 2:1; Rev. 1:10; 1 John 1:2-3; 1 Cor. 16:18) and through loving the brothers (Mark 12:31; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:13-15). Whenever we come together with the saints we need to exercise our spirit.
If we don’t exercise our spirit when we come together, we will merely have a social gathering, and gossip and opinions will be present. But when we exercise our spirit – which is holy (see 2 Cor. 6:6), we will be sanctified in our spirit, gossip will be removed, and there will be no negative things being spoken among us.
It is quite damaging to the local church when saints get together without the exercise of their spirit since gossip and negative speaking and criticism will rise up. When we get together we should seek to contact the Lord by exercising our human spirit, and then we will pray rather than gossip, intercede rather than criticize, and pray fervently rather than speak negative things.
When we exercise our spirit together with the saints we will pray much for the saints, the church, the Lord’s move, and the building up of the Body. Also, when we exercise our spirit we are filled with love for the brothers and the sisters.
The first fruit of the Spirit with our spirit is love, and we are called to love others; when we exercise our spirit, we are spontaneously filled with the love of God for the saints! As we walk by the spirit in the church life, we will love the Lord and love the brothers.
Lord Jesus, remind us to exercise our spirit whenever we come together with the saints. Save us from merely having a good and moral social gathering with the brothers and sisters. Draw us out of ourselves and into You as we meet. Lord, may we choose to exercise our spirit whenever we meet! May we choose to be in the horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship. Fill us in spirit so that we may love You and love the brothers.
Having an “Interwoven Fellowship”
We cannot and should not separate the two aspects of the divine fellowship, the vertical and the horizontal aspect. The one divine fellowship is an interwoven fellowship – the horizontal fellowship is interwoven with the vertical fellowship.
As seen in 1 John 1:3, 7, and our experience, whenever we fellowship with the Lord personally, we are eager to meet the saints and have fellowship with them. When we meet with the brothers and the sisters and exercise our spirit to enter into the horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship, we love the Lord more and desire to fellowship with Him more.
These two aspects are always interwoven, they criss-cross each other. When we fellowship with the Lord, He will fill us with love for the brothers and we will desire to meet the saints. When we fellowship with the brothers and sisters, we are ushered into a vertical fellowship with the Lord through much exercise of our spirit and prayer together.
If we take care of the vertical fellowship with the Lord and we have a proper horizontal fellowship with the saints, the “net of the church” will be properly mended in life and the Body of Christ is built up.
However, it is not that hard to “make a hole” in the net of the church – our disposition, our lack of self-control, our inconsistency in exercising our spirit, our inconsideration toward others, etc will cause the net to be broken. How strong the net of the church is depends on how much we criss-cross the vertical and horizontal fellowship.
As we fellowship with the Lord by the divine Spirit and with the saints by the human spirit, we are mended in life by the Lord and the net of the church is strong to both keep us and catch more fish.
We need to maintain both the vertical and the horizontal aspects of the divine fellowship in order for us to be healthy spiritually (1 John 1:7, 9). We need to learn to have much fellowship with the Lord as the Spirit vertically and with the saints by the exercise of our spirit horizontally so that the church may be mended by the Lord in life and the Body of Christ may be built up.
Lord Jesus, mend us in the divine life through much interwoven fellowship with You and with the saints. May we be those who spend time with You to fellowship with You and love You, and then spend time with the saints to exercise our spirit together to enjoy You. We want to be spiritually healthy Christians, those who maintain both the vertical and the horizontal aspects of the divine fellowship. Keep us in the flow of the divine life in the Body, having fellowship with You and with the saints for keeping of the oneness of the Body and the building up of the Body.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. James Lee’s sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man (chs. 16-19), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Aspects of the Christian Life and Church Life Seen in the New Jerusalem, week 4 / msg 4, The Fellowship of Life (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Further reading: see ch. 4 in, Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# O Lord, Thou art in me as life / And everything to me! / Subjective and available, / Thus I experience Thee. / O Lord, Thou art the Spirit! / How dear and near to me! / How I admire Thy marvelous / Availability! (Hymns #539)
# Savior, I by faith am touching / Thee, the source of every good; / Virtue now, by faith am claiming, / Through the cleansing of Thy blood. / Touching Thee, new life is glowing / By Thy Spirit’s burning flame; / Cleansing, purging, Spirit filling, / Glory to Thy Holy Name! (Hymns #559)
# Exercise the spirit! / Human thought reject; / Meet with one another, / Body life respect. (Hymns #866)
# Built up in love together, / Not one would criticize; / To perfect one another, / We all would exercise. / Each one from self delivered, / The natural life forsakes; / In grace each trained in spirit / The Body-life partakes. (Hymns #867)