Sermon Illustrations

As I think of the unity of God’s Gospel to us, I’m reminded of the unity I’ve experienced over the years with other saints on short term mission trips, volunteer positions at a crisis pregnancy center and a “Rescue Mission”, Promise Keepers (Men’s nationwide Ministry), and the Urban-Suburban Partnership (black/white and urban/suburban congregations working together).

Reflecting Christ

I benefited from the unity I experienced by literally seeing the Holy Spirit working among His saints. I also believe the Holy Spirit has given me a heart for “church” unity. In the (correctly titled) Lord’s Prayer of John 17 in the verses for “the church” Jesus says in verse 22: “I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are one”. Now I know about the glory Jesus has in Heaven, but I’m not as comfortable with His glory here on earth.

The problem I have, although the meaning and examples are clear, is that Christ’s glory here on earth, is the same as He intends for us – namely to reflect the glory of God (not our own glory) back to those around us, as we carry our own cross. This is like the moon, which has no light of its own, except for the sunlight it reflects to earth. So when I pray for unity, I expect that God’s role for me is to call attention to our God of Grace and Jesus our Savior. And that my agenda always needs to be subjected to the larger goal of “the Church” and its unity.

Self Image

We see a kitten – God sees a lion

So where do I start, what is the first goal I should have? Jesus says I need to love others as I love myself. In my ministries over the years I’ve often seen that people don’t love themselves, that they’ve missed the point of how much God loves them. We need to be confident in our standing with God in order to have an effective ministry. One of the teaching tools I use is a picture of a kitten looking into a mirror and seeing the image of a lion reflected back to them. I have a caption at the bottom that states “what matters most is how God sees you”. And I list Colossians 1:9-14 which is Paul’s prayer for each believer that they recognize God’s vision (the lion) for themselves. In 2021 we all need to pray for, and take hold of, Unity of self, of family, of congregation, and of “the church (immersed believers confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior)”. I’m praying that my words and actions match this song “Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! – E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me, – STILL ALL MY SONG SHALL BE, nearer, my God, to Thee.”

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