Summary: What God wants is for our lives to be fruitful in unity and the love that He gave and gives to us so that we might allow others to experience God’s life transforming love.
THAT THEY MAY BE ONE
Text : John 17:1 - 11
Someone (William Arnot) once made a wonderful point about God’s design in how we work as His creation: “He gives what he demands, and demands what he gives. The same master both gives the talents and requires an account of their outlay”. (William Arnot. Lesser Parables Of Our Lord. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981 reprint of 1884 edition, p 253). Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment that they love on another just as He loved them so that others will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). What does our love look like to those on the outside? Is our love inviting and contagious? Does our love reveal the kind of oneness that Jesus prayed for? Do others truly know that we are Jesus’ disciples by the way that we love?
Does Christian unity happen by default? Jesus gave us His love setting us free from sin, death and the fear of death through His victory for us on the cross. Jesus also gave us the Holy Spirit who regenerates us in our baptism, unites us in the Body of Christ and animates us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What God wants is for our lives to be fruitful in unity and the love that He gave and gives to us so that we might allow others to experience God’s life transforming love. Matthew Henry described God’s plan as “incorporating Christians into one body, animating us by His Holy Spirit and knitting us together”.
INCORPORATED INTO ONE BODY
What does it mean to be incorporated? 1) True Unity: It Is God that brings us together. Unity is not the same thing as uniformity because as someone (Tommy Tenney) said, “Uniformity means everybody looking alike, dressing and acting alike”. (Tommy Tenney. God’s Dream Team. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1999,p. 50). 2) Unity in spite of diversity: Have you ever noticed how music is put together? There are different musicians that together playing different instruments to bring about harmony as each person plays his or her part. We were brought together for the purpose of salvation and fellowship. 3) Burden bearing: Do we all have the same individual burden? We are suppose to help one another by “bearing one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6: 2). This means that we must strive toward becoming what God wants us to be. As someone (Tommy Tenney ) once said, “If God has a bad reputation in the world today, it is our fault”. (Tommy Tenney, p. 39). How often have we incriminated ourselves as Christians by contradicting our call to love of God and love of neighbor?
Have you ever heard of a conscientious objector?
According to Wikipedia, “A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector). Muhammad Ali was one of the most famous CO’s during the Vietnam era. He actually went to prison for his refusal because of his religious convictions.
Recently, another CO was brought to light and his story as portrayed in the recent movie Hacksaw Ridge. Desmond Doss, as portrayed by on screen actor named Andrew Garfield, was a CO whose religious convictions led him to be a medic. Instead of being a fighter, he felt his divine calling was to be a rescuer. Did you get that? At first, his military peers were tough on him and urged him to leave the army because he refused to touch a gun. Many who resented him later praised him because of his courage under fire as a medic who rescued a total of 75 men. He was the first CO in American military history to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss’ military service as a CO earned him praise because it was within God’s will for him to have that role! With every rescue he prayed “Lord, let me save one more.”
How well are we doing at rescuing those who have been wounded on the spiritual battle field? Do we pray to God to help us “save all those we” can? Or, do we say “Lord let someone else do it?” If we are not doing God’s will, are we not CO’s who are doing our own thing when we have our marching orders to “make disciples? (Matthew 28:19).
Can a bicycle wheel be used as an object lesson? 1) Spiritual inertia: The very things that draw us away from the center who is Christ are the same things that create competitions and almost mandate divisions. We are drawn away by differences in doctrine, differences in political interests, differences in styles and tastes. 2) Spiritual hinge: It is Christ who draws us and calls us to abandon the things that divide us! Using the wheel analogy, we can say that Christ calls us away from the rim and to the center at the hub where He is. When we are gathered at the hub, we practice humility as we realize that it is Christ that makes us righteous. The world does just the opposite. The world calls away from Christ to the rim of self-assertiveness, self-reliance, self-righteousness.