Unified- May We Be One

Go Forth in Unity 

Unified- May We Be One

Sunday, October 24, 2021

 

Welcome! May we be One.  We are in our final message on this series to Go Forth in Unity and in this message we’re going to look at a prayer Jesus Himself lifted up on our behalf-to reveal the heart of the Father and how we are to live in this world. 

His prayer centered around this divine purpose: May they be one, and may they be in Us. 

This is it above everything we do in this life- our greatest calling and purpose is to be one with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit-encountering them- walking with them- becoming like them, AND being one with all other believers. Nothing else will hold greater weight or ultimately bring us greater joy than when we strive to live this prayer out. Everything else we do in fact falls under these truths being our guiding light. Everything. 

As we look at this prayer we’ll see Jesus never prayed, have them agree on everything Father; let all of their opinions be exactly the same so there is no rub between any of them or let them all be independent extensions of us doing whatever they please. He never said grant them an immediate understanding of Truth as they believe. 

He prayed that we might be One- in them and in each other as the Body of Christ… why?

So that the world might believe!!

Let’s pray and invite the Spirit to join us together today as One in Christ and One in Body in the midst of our differences; in the midst of our varying levels of understanding of Truth; may the Spirit join us together as One.  Thank You Heavenly Father that through Your Spirit You bind us together as One. We are joined with You for eternity, and we are joined with all believers by Your Spirit that binds us together in peace. Speak to us today and grant us greater understanding of Your purpose for us as One. Soften our hearts to this truth and let us walk in obedience with a oneness of heart. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

 

Think about this for a moment this is a bold prayer for Jesus knows how easily divided we all are; how we prefer to hang out with those who are most like us; how we get offended quickly and how the enemy would be coming to destroy everything He was building. 

He didn’t pray for us to all be exactly alike, to force His will on us, to remove all those who believe in Him from this broken world…no He prayed that through His Spirit we might choose the gift of Oneness that we have in Him with the Father and with one another in the Body. It’s a choice and a surrender. The gift is there and we are already joined together through the Spirit because He prayed for us-BUT we must choose to elevate Jesus over ourselves. We must surrender to self and place Jesus’ divine purpose above our opinions and level of understanding. 

You know where we see this happen quickly- when someone is in need of desperate prayers. Just think about all those we have been lifting up in prayer recently-which there are many. Whether it’s cancer, covid, an injury, a broken relationship… there is a unified voice lifted up to God to move on that person’s behalf and pour out His love, mercy, and healing. Everyone still has their opinions on various issues; views likely remain the same though are sometimes changed in these moments; how we vote, whether we’re best friends and hang out all the time-none of that matters in these moments.

There is unity believing there is a greater power that can intercede and help in this desperate time and that power is Jesus Christ.  There is compassion and kindness extended. There is grace shown.  In the midst of diversity and disagreement, there is love and unity. 

This tells me that if we can choose oneness in our most critical times, we can choose oneness all the time.

It doesn’t mean we’ll agree on everything- we won’t. Jesus knows this. It means we’ll choose love, compassion, and understanding with one another. We’ll choose to build one another up as Jesus does, not tear one another down. 

I am living this in my friendships within the IMA. You might think a group of pastors and ministry leaders would be alike because we all serve the Lord. Oh my goodness no! We are so different in so many ways! There are differences in how we live just by geography-even within our state! There are differences based on how we grew up; if we serve in big churches vs. rural churches or as missionaries. There are differences in how we view education and how we worship. There are even differences to some extent in interpreting doctrine! And yet, you hear me praise how much I love my brothers and sisters in the IMA and I do! Because I don’t spend time focusing on the vast ways we differ

I focus on how we are united.

I focus on their love for the Lord and His people and I see God moving in their midst and I’m in awe of it. I’m in awe of how God can bring such diverse people together and let such love and encouragement flow among us. It’s beautiful and amazing to watch God at work. I’m so thankful for these people who choose to love me, encourage me, and teach me. 

I also see it in a group I join each week online that helps us all hear from God. We’re all ladies from all over the country and the more we talk, the more I find out how and where we differ. The more time you spend with people, the more you get to know these things right? It just comes out in conversation. If I wanted to, I could get hung up on those differences and then miss the beauty of where we are united. To me, how we’re united in Christ is far more important than any temporal or earthly differences. They live in different places, have different experiences in life, different education-even differing beliefs and views. 

But you know what I have found, if you love God and offer your heart to God He moves in your life and on your behalf for His glory and purposes.

What this means is-even when people believe differently than you, see the world differently than you, vote different than you- and they love Jesus- God can and does work in and through their lives. I love that! Our opinions of what is right doesn’t limit God! How about that?

God’s ways are far above ours. We’re each just trying to figure out what to do in this world as best we can and God knows our views and interpretations will vary. He works through all who call on His name! And I don’t want to miss what He’s doing. So I choose to focus on how we’re united and look for what God is doing through each person because when you do that- you can truly see some spectacular things unfolding. To me, and I believe what Jesus desires as we’ll see, this is a much more beautiful way to live. 

Let’s take a look at what Jesus prayed and see how it might stir our hearts today. Keep in mind this prayer was just hours before He was arrested and began His journey to the cross; to His death for you and me. 

 

                                                           John 17: 13-23 NIV                                                                                    

  13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

  • Be Sanctified in Truth 

Jesus prayed that we would all be sanctified in Truth. Sanctify means to be set apart, consecrated, and made holy. We are being sanctified in Christ the more we walk with Him, seek His Word as our truth, and live by that truth. 

John 17: 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.     

Let’s remember that Jesus is the Word. Jesus is Truth. We are set apart in Christ, to love God and love others and be One so that the world might believe in Jesus whom God sent. This is where surrender begins. 

Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Hearing Jesus’ prayer for all of us and His heart’s desire brings a whole new understanding to this verse in Galatians. Our life is no longer our own-we were bought and paid for, through the blood of Jesus. We were set apart for His glory to reveal to the world around us His love. Our right response is to live by faith in Him, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. By faith in Him, not ourselves and not the things or ways of this world. In Christ alone we place our faith, who is our Truth. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.     

This sanctification process happens throughout our entire lifetime here on earth. We are being transformed from glory to glory, the longer we walk with God and keep our hearts open to His Truth revealed in us. This happens through the Holy Spirit who teaches us the ways of God.  The Spirit gives us God’s perspective in all things.   

John 16:13  13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.   

The Holy Spirit is Truth and will reveal the heart and plans of God.

This is how I am able to see and glory in what God is doing in the lives of those who see the world differently than I do- through the Holy Spirit of Truth that joins us together. Often I need divine understanding in a situation-to see God’s perspective over my limited understanding and view. This comes as I tune to the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit will always promote Oneness.                    

  • Elevate Jesus    

The clearest path to Oneness is to elevate Jesus.   This is the focus within any IMA gathering and this is the focus with my ladies group to elevate our Lord and Savior. We invite Him in and ask Him to lead us, to connect us, and speak among us through His Spirit. This is the focus for God’s Church- to elevate Jesus. It should be the focus of any of our conversations-especially when we differ. Let us remember these truths when we feel the pull to separate us:                                                                                        

Matthew 18:20 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

If we’re divided, chances are we need to pause and invite Jesus into the dialogue, or maybe first into our hearts to soften them and show us His perspective in that situation.                                                

John 10:10  NASB 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.

Jesus came that all who believe in Him would have life abundant! It’s the thief-the enemy, who comes to destroy. Let our actions and our heart model that of our Savior and why He came- to create life abundant for others in Him. If our actions or words are stealing joy and life abundant; if they are killing the spirit of someone else; or destroying another person then let us remember whose kingdom we are truly building in those moments. 

As a follower of Christ, this is His command for each of us: 

John 15:12 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 

Love for a child of God. Love for a brother or sister in Christ. Love for each other will always lead to unity.                                                                                                                                           

  • Yield to Spirit Over Flesh

To love others as Christ has loved us requires us to yield to our fleshly desires and rights and choose to follow the Spirit’s leadings and truths. Unity is not of man or woman it is of the Spirit that binds us together. God shared with me this is a maturing in our discipleship-to choose unity and oneness. The more we learn to yield to the Spirit, the more we’ll find ourselves unified with the Body. The more then we’ll be living out this prayer of Jesus-that we are one. 

Romans 8: 5-6 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  

Those who are sanctified in Truth and elevate Jesus in their days will be more likely to live in accordance with the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is unity.

Listen to the graciousness of Jesus in this next passage who is working all things for the good of those who love Him, to come to know Him, to come to understand His Truth, and to draw His flock together in unity.  I chose the Message translation to give us a beautiful visual of God’s divine purposes in this world. He is not set on torturing us with all that we disagree and differ in. Quite the opposite-His heart is to create a beautiful rhythm in the Body of Christ-all working in harmony, all living alive in Christ. 

Ephesians 4: 12-13 MSG He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled the earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

Isn’t this a beautiful picture? This is the Church. This is the Body of Christ as it reaches maturity-moving rhythmically in response to Jesus, fully mature, fully developed, sanctified, and fully alive in Christ! 

Let us choose to see one another as a gift from God to further develop and mature the Body of Christ, to bring a greater richness to the harmony within the Body-all moving in rhythm to our director, and the head of the Body-Jesus Christ. 

Remember even if you can’t see it and all appears to be chaos, our God has a plan and is a God of order and peace. 

1 Corinthians 14:33 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

 

So may we consider Jesus’ prayer and His heart as we go forward. May we yield our flesh to His Spirit, choosing to love others above all else. 

ConclusionMay we remember the power of unity is found at the foot of the cross where the ground is level. May our vision be fueled by surrender and our boldness driven by love.  May we be One. May we be unified, so that the world will believe in Jesus Christ, our Savior.  

Let’s pray.  We thank You Lord for the gift of unity. We thank You for Your love, grace and patience with all of us. We thank You for Your merciful care Father and Spirit to guide us into all truth. Help us set aside our preferences, our opinions, our agendas and let us simply listen to what You say is good and right. Let us follow You Lord, for You are love and You are truth. When we emulate You, we will always be operating in unity. To You be the glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

Final Blessing: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

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

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