Summary: Making a wrong relationship right.
Have You Offended Someone?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
March 21, 2004
I have never made it a practice of mine to preach at the problems in our church. My approach to the pulpit is normally to preach through books of the Bible or in short series in such a way that issues are addressed in an orderly and biblical fashion, with hopes that you will be concerned about your relationships to God, to others, and about your spiritual growth enough to apply the lessons to your life as we come to them. That is my normal practice for at least three reasons. I have made it my practice because the Bible tells me to preach the Word, not some of the Word, not the parts I know and like, but all of it, and I have found that the best way to preach all of it is to work through it one verse and chapter at a time. The second reason is because the easiest way to mishandle God’s Word and take something out of context is to just pick a verse here and there to preach without regard for the larger context, which we get when we study an entire book. The third reason I have made it my approach is so that I am not accused of using the pulpit as a bully pulpit. If I am preaching through a passage and come to something that you find uncomfortable, you cannot accuse me of picking that text to take a shot at you; you will have to accuse God of doing that because it was simply the next thing in the passage that happened to have special application for you.
However, I have felt for the past few weeks that perhaps there is a spirit among us that does not belong here, and so long as it exists then we will not be too concerned about what is good and right and biblical. Just so you do not misunderstand me, I did not say there are people among us who do not belong here – I said there is a spirit among us, a sinful, carnal spirit that has no place in the Lord’s church. So, today I believe that it is time to lay aside our current series and begin addressing the issues at hand. Those of you who write in your Bibles will see that I have preached this message before, so don’t hold that against me.
Even if you’re not aware of the issues I will address, I want you to follow along, for God has a plan that we are to use when problems do arise, and it is important that you follow His plan so that we do not come to the place where our church is today. We are a divided church, and we are divided because we have laid aside God’s plan for working out our problems and have chosen to do what we want to do. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, he told them that they were to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In other words, it is critically important that a spirit of unity, or a spirit of oneness exist among us.
If you’ve never thought about why it is so important, turn to John 17 and let me show you why. When you think of our need for unity, I want you to think beyond the personal benefits it may have. Do you remember what David wrote in the Psalms? “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” When there is unity we enjoy coming to church, and when there is not unity, we dread coming. We find ourselves not wanting to be together, so we strive to keep unity. But there is a more important reason. Look with me at John 17. Jesus was praying to God for the disciples. He was about to leave them alone in the world, and He was praying for their safety and for the work they would do, but after He prayed for them, He prayed for you and me too. Look at verse 20. Jesus said,