Summary: Jesus prayed that his church would be as united as He and the Father were. This sermon looks at 6 features that the church must be united in.
Two men met on a plane and one man asked the other, "Are you a Christian?"
"Yes I am."
"Wonderful! Are you Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox?"
"I’m a Protestant."
"That’s great. So am I. Are you Calvinist or Armenian in your theology?"
"I’m happy to say that I’m a staunch Calvinist."
"That’s fantastic. So am I. If you don’t mind my asking, are you a Calvinistic Baptist or a Calvinistic Presbyterian?"
"I’m a Calvinistic Baptist."
"What a coincidence. I’m a Calvinistic Baptist, too. Are you a Northern Calvinistic Baptist or a Southern Calvinistic Baptist?"
"By heritage and by choice I am a Northern Calvinistic Baptist."
"Unbelievable! So am I. May I ask if you are a Northern Regular Calvinistic Baptist or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist?"
"I’m a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist."
"This is truly astounding. There are only 200 of us in the world—and two of us happened to meet on this plane. Tell me, sir, would you happen to be a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1868?"
"I am a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844."
"This is a miracle! Are you a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 King James Version or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 New International Version?"
"I am a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist of 1844 New International Version."
With that, the first man ceased to smile, turned away and under his breath whispered “Heathen!”
As we listen to this story, we find it humorous and ironic. But the reality is that the Body of Christ has fractured itself in so many parts that we find ourselves in disharmony within rather than in harmony against the world.
When the early church became organized, it was known as the Catholic Church. The earliest reference to this term is 107AD. Catholic meant, “pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.” Its root was from a Greek word meaning “according to the whole”
In 1517AD, the Protestant Reformation separated the church due to a lack of agreement on doctrine.
In 2014, we now have over 41,000 different denominations around the world. There are over 1,200 in the USA. The biggest Protestant denomination is the Baptist who is divided into 62 different categories. Unity is difficult which leads us to today’s sermon featuring the last part of the prayer for us by Jesus.
John 17:21 “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
Jesus prayed that would be as united with each other in one body as He and God were. He also prayed that we would be united with God and Jesus so that the world would believe in the Son of God.
There is power in unity.
“There was a man who was stranded all alone on the deserted island who was rescued. His rescuers asked him what the three structures were that he had built on the island. Three buildings seemed perplexing for just one man. He said one was his house, one was his church, and one was where he used to go to church before he got his feelings hurt!” He was united with himself against himself. That is wrong unity.
When men decided to build a tower that would reach to God, He confused their language and stated, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!” (Genesis 11:6)
Nothing will be impossible when there is unity. Joseph’s brothers were unified in their effort to kill him. The children of Israel were united when they coerced Aaron to build a golden calf to worship. The children of Israel were united in their belief that they could not take the land promised to them by God. David’s men were united in their desire to kill King Saul, whom at the time was still God’s anointed. The Jewish leaders were united as Stephen was stoned to death outside the city walls of Jerusalem. There is power in unity. Being united against a common enemy or cause seems to be easy for us. The real difficulties come from being united with God.
When David decided to fight Goliath, the entire nation of Israel stood in fear against this one man. But David was in unity with God. And there is power in unity. He slew Goliath, which motivated the army of Israel to attack and defeat the Philistines.
When Elijah decided to stand alone against the 450 prophets of Baal with the entire nation of Israel watching he was in unity with God. And there is power in unity. With a single prayer, fire from heaven consumed his sacrifice and all 450 prophets of Baal were put to death.