Summary: Fellowship, is the true power of oneness within the Christian family/church.
A second grade teacher gave an assignment to her class for the students to bring an item from home that represented their religious background. She wanted to teach the kids about the diversity in the world about worshipping God. At show and tell time, they began to share what their particular item meant to their faith. A Catholic child brought some rosary beads and shared with the class how they used the beads to prayer. There was a Native American child who brought a dream catcher. He told the class how to place dream catchers about their head to capture their dreams that they had in the night. It would filter out the bad one and hold the good dreams in their memory. A Jewish child brought a candle and shared how it was used to celebrate Hanukkah. One kid pulled some food out of his bag. He said, “I’m Southern Baptist, and I brought a chicken casserole.”
The teacher taught a lesson that day, but not the one she was planning on. We may be diverse in our backgrounds, but it is the power of unity that can bring great worship.
I. The Power of Unity
i. There are many misconceptions about fellowship as illustrated in the opening story.
ii. When we think about fellowship, we often think of an event that would take place beyond the regularly scheduled church services.
iii. It’s an informal gathering where the saints enjoy each other’s company.
iv. These fun meetings of the saints include fellowship, but fellowship is far more than hanging out with friends and trading recipes and stories.
v. Jesus calls attention to the fact that genuine fellowship is one of the most powerful tools for evangelism for the church.
b. Might (vv. 20-21)
i. Jesus prayed for all who would call upon His name to be one, and a watching world would be drawn to believe in Christ
ii. Here Jesus shares one of the most overlooked tools of evangelism.
1. Jesus says, “When a watching lost world looks at a body of believers, they see something that they can’t find anywhere else. They desire love, support, encouragement, and acceptance, and they will be drawn to the Savior.”
2. Jesus never said that the world will be drawn because of great preaching.
3. He didn’t say great singing would cause hoards of people to be drawn to Christ.
4. He said, in effect, “I’m praying that they will be one as the heavenly Father and I are one, and that unity they will draw them to the gospel.”
II. The Prescription for Unity
a. Using the word, UNITY, as an acronym, we can identify several characteristics of Christ-honoring fellowship.
i. U = Uplift
1. One way to develop unity within the body of Christ and in your home is to make a commitment to follow commands of God to uplift one another.
2. Imagine the incredible spirit of uplifting these men experienced in this final phase of Jesus ministry with His disciples.
3. Jesus essentially said to them, “I’ve chosen you because I believe you can change the world. The world is going to know about the love I have for them.”
4. Can you imagine how that must have energized them?
ii. N = Need
1. God has placed us here so that we can meet the needs of others.
2. My favorite story about meeting the needs of others is about the child who wanted a bike for his birthday. When his dad tucked him in for bed, he prayed with an extremely loud voice, “God, I really want that blue bike from Wal-Mart.” His grandparents were visiting, so the father instructed the boy not to be so loud, “Son, God’s not deaf.” The little boy said, “I know, but grandpa is!”
3. That child knew that God usually meet needs through the lives of other saints.
4. Unity becomes possible when we acknowledge our personal needs and our responsibility to help others with their needs.
iii. I = Integrity (v. 22)
1. Jesus says, “I have given them glory”
2. Jesus represented the glory and the holiness of God, and we have received the call to represent the same type of integrity or holiness.
3. Verse 19, says that they would be sanctified in Christ.
4. 1 John 1:7, says, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.
5. Unity flourished when we live holy, clean, and pure lives.
iv. T = Trust
1. When there is integrity, the saints of God are willing to trust one another.
2. The experience of unity is accompanied by a confidence in your brothers and sisters to fulfill their responsibility without being coerced or begged.