Summary: Unity of the church is based upon seeing the value of everyone and providing a refreshing spiritual nurishment to the body.
Living In Harmony
A. In John 17 we have the priestly prayer of Jesus. In this prayer to his father he prays for his disciples. Then as the prayer begins to close, Jesus prays for all believers. Listen to the words of Christ in John 17:20-26.
B. How can Christians have the type of unity that Jesus and the Father share? Let be honest, we don’t always agree. In fact sometimes there are people who feel slighted or hurt, not united and loved. As the church grows, some would say we grow farther apart. How can we live in harmony? I wrestled with those questions. But then a bigger question came into my mind. Before any of those questions could be answered, I must first answer, "Do I want to be united with these Christians?"
C. Now there was a sobering thought. It is like when Jesus asked the man who was a invalid for 38 years if he wanted to get well. At first you say, "Of course I want unity." Then, when you stop and think, you being to wonder if the only unity you are interested in is the type when everyone is united with you and you are always right. The problem is Jesus was praying for everyone to be united with me, but everyone to be united with him as he is with the father.
D. David writes a short poem. David remarks that it is good and pleasant when brothers live together in unity. There is something great about community, about people coming together and finding a reason to unite. There have been many reasons over the years for people to unite. Sometimes, as we saw after 9/11, nations unite against a common enemy. Sometimes people unite for a common cause. Something great happens when people find in each other value and worth. David uses some wonderful Jewish symbolism to describe this great blessing of unity.
I. The Value of You
A. First he says it is like overflowing oil, running down from the head to the beard to the collar of the priestly robes. David uses a similar analogy when he speaks in Ps. 23 about how the Lord anoints our head with oil and our cup overflows. To me it is messy.
B. I don’t think Kerri would like to do my wash if I came home and said, "Honey, you never guess what happened. The elders poured oil all over my head, down my face and onto my clothes."
C. It is perspective. To the Jews it was an anointing to show a person of great importance so they took something expensive and used it in a way that was uncommon. To take the high priest and anoint him with that much oil would have cost a tremendous amount of money. It was not a waste, because he was not a waste. Do you understand that the more I value you, the less I value things. Therefore, I can do something extravagant and it not be wasteful to me, because it being used in conjunction with you; and you are important to me.
D. As a church we need to understand the value of each person within this congregation. If there is one fault to which we must address, it is need to value others more than self. I know selfishness and self-centeredness are common sins, but they have no place in the body of Christ. When confronted with our actions, we should openly repent of them to the brother or sister we have devalued. If this church is to be united in the way Jesus prayed, it will come when we begin to value everyone here in ways that that they understand.
E. In the New Testament, the analogy is not the oil on the head, but that of a body. Paul talks about how the church is like a body and Christ is the head of the body. No one in the body can claim a greater value than others. They eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you, nor the hand to the eye (Read 1 Cor. 12:21-26)."
F. The point is to value each person within the body. Today we honor the life of Patty Arthurs. Here is a woman who, in the 9 years she has been a part of this congregation, was blind. One would think that as a blind person she had little value to this church. Now, those of you who knew Patty, know very well that is completely false. Patty was of great value to this church. Here positive attitude, beautiful nature, desire to work, participation in activities, understand and reading of the Bible all proved to be a great value to this church. When we as church being to value each other in a similar way it will be like oil poured over the head, down the beard and onto the robes.