Summary: The church is made of completely different people and if we don’t embrace our diversity we will not survive. We must focus on living worthy of the Gospel instead of living for ourselves.
Unity in Diversity
Pastor Ryan Akers
Good morning Sand Lake! Happy Father’s Day! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here this morning to have the opportunity to share God’s Word with you. It’s been a really fun weekend getting to meet and know a bunch of you and then this morning trying to shake a lot of hands and say hi to everyone. My only hope is that you won’t quiz me on your name later. And now that I have just said that I am sure some of you will. 200+ names is a lot to remember in a day.
A couple weeks ago my wife and I were up here and had dinner with the search committee. It was the first time we have been to Wisconsin and of course you hear the name of a state like Wisconsin and you immediately, for some reason, expect to see arctic weather. But when we were here it was sunny and hot. My wife and I were just blown away by how beautiful this area of the country is. I grew up in western Oklahoma where there is absolutely nothing but wheat fields with 100 degree heat and 100 % humidity and coulee to us is just a funny way of describing a box that holds ice and cold drinks. No scenery whatsoever. My wife had it a little bit better than me. She grew up in Colorado Springs, CO and had a beautiful view of Pike’s Peak right out her living room window.
Even though I have never been to Wisconsin I actually have family here. My grandfather, who past away 5 years ago, grew up in West Bend which is on the east side of the state north of Milwaukee. So if any of you are my family that I have never met I just want to say it’s nice to meet you and I’d like to talk to you after the service about the 29 years of Christmas gifts you owe me. ☺
The message this morning is very simply titled Unity in Diversity. Ephesians 4:1(READ). The apostle Paul is the author of this letter. He is speaking to the believers of the church at Ephesus and it’s incredibly important to grasp what he is setting up in this first verse. Paul is suffering for Jesus. He wrote this letter while chained in prison for Jesus. No human suffered more than Paul for the faith. Many have died yes, but most have never endured his constant torture of imprisonment, loneliness, stonings, shipwrecks, whippings, conflict, hunger on and on the list goes. He has endured all of this pain for the cause of Christ. To advance the Gospel. He has led a life worthy of his calling because through all of his suffering and persecution he has remained faithful to Jesus by continuing to preach the Gospel wherever he goes and to encourage the church. Now, in his letter to his fellow believers in Ephesus he is not asking them he is begging them to live a life worthy of their calling just as he has.
What is that calling that Paul is begging us to follow? Jesus said it. Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. It is also to go and preach the Gospel to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
This plea from Paul to the believers brings up the BIG QUESTION I have for you this morning. Is your life worthy of the Gospel? Is how you are living your life, how you treat people, love people or don’t, how you talk, act, react worthy of the Gospel? If you have been called by God meaning you are a Christian who has repented and believes in Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sin then you have a calling to follow and Paul is begging you this morning to make your life worthy of the Gospel by living out that calling.
That means you and I are to be different. We approach life different, look at problems different, speak to people different because we are following the calling of Christ. We are in the world but we are not of the world. We ourselves, each one of us are different but we are brought together by Jesus, formed into one body through Jesus, give our lives to live out God’s calling in order to glorify Jesus. Our ability to unite and work together for one common purpose even though we are so incredibly different as people is one of the reasons I absolutely love the local church. I mean think about this. Everybody in this room has had completely different life experiences. I am someone who is absolutely fascinated by people’s stories. If we get the opportunity to get to know one another beyond just today then you will see that when we hang out I want you to talk about you. I want to know how God saved you and brought you here. I am fascinated to hear about the path God has led you down that have brought you to this place on this Sunday sitting in that chair looking up at me. How did you get here? We have all experienced different hurts, tragedies, gone to different schools, lived in different states, made different choices, had different friends, experienced different up bringing through vastly different home environments and yet here we are all together on June 21st 2009 at Sand Lake Wesleyan Church reading God’s Word united as Christ body. Is it coincidence? Or did God, just maybe, direct our paths to this place at this time for a specific reason?