Summary: God's people have been called to understand the importance of and need to defend the unity of our churches.
Have you seen the trailers for the new Lone Ranger movie that’s coming out? Johnny Depp is playing Tonto? It looks interesting…maybe not a faithful twist to the old Lone Ranger we grew up on but interesting nonetheless. I heard a story about how Tonto and the Lone Ranger were riding through a canyon together when all of a sudden both sides were filled with Indian warriors on horses, dressed for battle. The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and asked, "What are we going to do?" Tonto replied, "What you mean 'we,' white man?"
Perhaps one of the greatest sources of church and personal conflict we face when it comes to church is where our independent western spirit resists the extremely relational and interdependence God built into the culture we know as church.
This past Monday a young lady in Durant died. She was 32 years old and worked as a cosmetologist in Denison. She was married and had a young daughter and a step-son. But the reason she died, at least in part is heart breaking. It seems she had juvenile diabetes and her husband had recently been battling cancer. Those of you who have faced cancer know that the expenses related to it such as doctor and hospital visits, medications, tests and treatments can be extremely expensive. Well this young family had some tough choices to make, so in order to pay for the medications her husband needed this wife wasn’t buying her own medications for her diabetes. On Monday she died after going into a diabetic coma.
Now, I bring all that up because it was an unnecessary death. I don’t know if they were part of a church family or not, but God forbid that anything like that ever happen here. If that’s you…tell someone. Give up your pride and independence and ask for help. If it is someone you know…tell someone. Help. Do something. Can I remind you this morning that we are family? If the church in Acts could sell their possessions to meet one another’s physical needs, then there’s no reason that someone in our family ought to go without a medication or any other physical need they have when God has given us all the resources we need right here.
Families care for one another – and many of you are closer to me than my very own family. They say blood is thicker than water…but I think in many cases the waters of baptism bind us together closer than our own kin. And if you’ll think about it…the saying says that blood is thicker than water. Perhaps we need to get in our mind that the blood of Christ is thicker than any DNA blood you have running through your veins – we are bound together as one by the blood of Christ at the Cross of Calvary!
Do you know how close we ought to be to one another? Jesus prayed that we might be one. In John 17 He prayed these words…
(Read John 17:20ff and make a few comments)
To the Ephesian church Paul said “to Him – to Jesus be glory in the church!” Then he called the believers there to unity…one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all...Unity!
But is unity really possible? I mean come on, really? Think about the makeup of any church. You have mature believers and some who are spiritual infants. There is selfishness and pride, people who are in the Bible and those who don’t know any of it. We have all these personalities and differences. Some want to run in this direction and others in that direction.
How can we have unity with all that in play? The word unity is found in your New Testaments only twice, but it comes from the Greek word heis, which means One…and that word is found 272 times in the New Testament. Can we have unity? Can we really, with so many parts and members be ONE?
It’s easy to glamorize the early church and think “Oh, if we could just get back to that then we’d have unity. Oh, if we were like the church of Acts or the church in the Bible then we’d be in good shape. But let me remind you that the churches found in the Bible had just as many problems as we do. The church in Acts faced leadership problems. They struggled with racism and favoritism and had financial struggles. The Corinthian church was plagued with division, open sin, prideful attitudes from people who were abusing their spiritual gifts and more. The Galatian church was practicing works, and it seems the Ephesian church was made up of people who looked and acted like Christians but their lives were empty of the real power that only comes from living in the Spirit.