Over a decade ago, I had a vision of a bridegroom king standing at the altar, and many brides were walking down the aisle. As I looked, puzzled, the brides merged into one bride. The interpretation was clear — one unified bride, and that vision continues to shape and transform me.
There’s so much on my heart to share. Permit me, first, to set the context by sharing from the Old Testament. The Israelites were called to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” who would turn other nations back to God (Exodus 19:6). As they left Egypt to settle in Canaan after the wilderness, the book of Deuteronomy was a call to covenant love and loyalty to God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB). Words which Jesus also quoted to the Pharisees, the religious scribes of His day, when asked about the greatest commandment (see Matthew 22:36–40; Mark 12:28–31; Luke 10:25–37).
In the Old Testament, the prophets called out three significant sins or violations of the covenant: idolatry, social injustice, and religious rituals. It was no different in Jesus’ days or ours because it’s a matter of the heart (Matthew 15:19; 19:8; 23:23; Mark 7:6-7; Luke 6:45). We know all too well the story of Israel’s rebellion, but is it only Israel’s story?
What I love about the OT prophecies is the revelation of His heart. For instance, as Ezekiel prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, he also prophesied Israel’s restoration: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19). Similarly, Jeremiah prophesied, “and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them” (Jeremiah 32:39). Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and more by dying on the cross and becoming the New Covenant Mediator (Hebrews 9:15).
Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5; Acts 2). But what do we do with that love?
I believe it is vital to note the imperatives in Philippians, as Paul writes, “make my joy complete by being of the same mind [phroneō], maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent [phroneō] of one purpose (Philippians 2:2).” What is our one purpose? Is it found in scriptures such as Luke 4:43 and 1 John 3:8? In Philippians 2:5, Paul exhorts us with the same imperative, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” using the same Greek word [phroneō]. One must not forget Ephesians 4:4-6, verses that have been burning in my heart for a season: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
Most importantly, however, are Our Lord and Savior’s words, Jesus Christ, in John 17. How do we fulfill His prayer in John 17:21 that we may be one? I am reminded again of the vision I had those years ago. The bridegroom king was standing at the altar, and many brides were walking down the aisle. Then the brides merged into one. The interpretation was clear — one bride, and that vision continues to shape and transform me. My heart’s cry is His prayer that we may be one (John 17:21).
Note from the editor:
Before you continue reading, I want to point out that Oyin, the author of this post is one of a select group of people who have completed our accredited doctoral program. Along with Randy Clark, Tom Jones, Kim Maas, and others, Oyin is a shining example of how we are called to engage both our whole being — including our minds! — in pursuing God. I would encourage you to pray about the possibility that God would call you to pursue a masters’ or doctoral degree with us. You can learn about the doctoral program here →
THE UNIFIED BRIDE
With a focus on the bride of Christ and considering His heart in us (Romans 5:5), I think of ecumenism, the unity of Christians. Ecumenism, from the Greek term, oikoumenē, meaning “the inhabited world,” comes from the Greek word, oíkos which means “house, family, household, race.” Jesus told us, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world [oikoumenē] as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
With my use of the term ecumenism, I have considered New Testament Professor Andy Lord’s invitation to give careful thought to a “renewalist approach to missiology, rooted in a postdenominational or ecumenical identity.” He writes, renewalists…
- “stress encountering the Holy Spirit in ways that drive mission movements;
- are shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ to form gospel communities rooted in local contexts;
- seek conversational integration of traditions and disciplines for the sake of transforming mission.” 
In other words, a renewalist approach to missional ecumenism is rooted in the love of God experienced through the Holy Spirit and His gifts (Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
As mentioned earlier, there are imperatives in Philippians 2, to set our mind on Jesus, to exemplify Cruciformity (becoming Christlike). Moreover, Paul writes that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), so how should we consider these imperatives in light of the imperative in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to “make disciples”? As Gorman writes, “in conforming oneself more closely to Christ and living the ‘cruciform’ lifestyle Paul expounds, one will be less self-reliant, and thus God’s power can be displayed for all to see.”
Our mission is to fulfill the call (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Peter 2:9), just as Israel was called, and His love empowers us. I believe with all of my heart that it is possible to have doctrinal or structural differences and remain united, having one heart, through covenant love (Acts 4:29-34). The Body is meant to be built up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16), look like Him (1 John 4:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18), and fulfill His mission. In light of the prophetic mission of Jesus (Luke 4:18-19) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Renewal Missional Ecumenism is possible, but do we have one [His] heart? The commandments to us are simple: love Him “with all your [our] heart, and with all your [our] soul, and with all [our] mind” and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).
OUR MISSION IS LOVE
Would you pray this with me? Heavenly Father, I pray for a supernatural love to permeate the hearts of all those who read this post. Father, I pray that we may be one, as we love You, with all of our hearts, all of our soul, and all of our might. Lord, may we declare in unity: “There is one body and one Spirit…one hope of your [our] calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). In Your Son’s Holy Name, we pray.
In His Love,
Oyinkan ‘Oyin’ Kokoricha B.Sc. (Hons) M.Sc. M.Div
P.S. As I write, Global Awakening Theological Seminary (GATS) has been approved to start Doctoral Programs in the Fall. As a seminary, one of the strengths of GATS is the diversity within the Body of Christ. It is not uncommon to find classes with a mix of Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Charismatics, to name a few and what they have in common is their hunger for the more that God has for them as they seek a balance of the Word and the Spirit.
There will be two different degree programs in Renewal Theology at GATS: a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree and a Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) degree in the Fall with three main focus areas: 1) Grow, 2) Build, and 3) Influence. One of the courses that this 2019 Master of Divinity (M.Div.) graduate of GATS is looking forward to is “Discipleship structures and strategies for renewal practices” [the course title is subject to change], as one of the goals of this course is to build bridges and see the Body built up in love. It’s His heart that we should be one (John 17:21). If you are interested in pursuing a Doctoral Program or even a Master’s Program, I invite you to consider GATS →
 Andy Lord, “Postdenominational Missiology: Developing an Ecumenical Renewalist Approach.” Transformation 2017, Vol. 34(4) 243, https://journals-sagepub-com.dtl.idm.oclc.org/doi/pdf/10.1177/0265378817720352
 Lord, “Postdenominational Missiology: Developing an Ecumenical Renewalist Approach,” 244 – 245.
 Michael J. Gorman, Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 233, Kindle; Luke 24:19 NASB “And He said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to Him, ‘The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people;’” Romans 15:19 NASB “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”