Summary: A sermon for the 7th Sunday of Eastertide on acceptance and unity.
Unity in Oneness – John 17: 20 – 26
Intro: I don’t believe Jesus was naïve enough to think that people in his church are going to agree on how many candles to put on the communion table, whether a wooden cross or metal is more appropriate or whether to use styrofoam, paper, plastic, or ceramic dishes. I don’t think he’s hoping everyone will have the same opinion about every issue. However, three different themes arise in this prayer Jesus prayed for his followers.
I. BELIEF - Verses 20 Jesus prays for those who have believed in him, for those who will believe because of the witness of the disciples and for the world, that all might come to belief. Believe here means more than accepting cognitive information. Belief means recognizing that Jesus has been sent by the one he called “Father” vs. 23
A. of primary concern is the nurture and growth of those within the family of faith vs. 26
B. there is an outreach in word and deed to those whom the church community encounters directly. Vs. 26
C. there is witness, service and mission in the world (both the world nearby that does not yet share the heartbeat of Jesus and the world far away that might not yet have a name for the grace in life.) Vs. 25
II. ONENESS – Vs. 21 Jesus prays for nothing less than oneness for believers. Working together – being different but still being one. As we become one, the world will see our unity – our abilty to find common purpose and vision and will know God’s love. The effect of unity is that the world believes God the Father sent Christ the Son. Only united disciples will convince the world of the truth of Jesus’ message. The world does not believe in Christ Jesus because the world sees partitions among the followers.
A. Unity or oneness is not sameness. Can you imagine what the world would look like if everything was the same color? It is the diversity of color that make the world beautiful.
B. Unity is respecting diversity without accepting everything under the sun. Each member of the church feeling that she has a place that is not simply tolerated; but essential to the whole.
C. Perfect oneness or unity is coming together, overcoming our differences, finding common ground and common goals in the name of Christ Jesus and working together to achieve those goals.
III. LOVE – Vs. 23, 24, 26 5 times within these 6 verses, Jesus names “love” as the key descriptor of divine relationships.
A. vss 23-24 love is the glue that holds the trinity together. It is because God loves us that Jesus was sent. It is because Jesus loves his followers that the Spirit is sent. It is because of love for humanity that the Spirit remains with us.
B. vs. 23 love is a divine gift to the disciples
C. vs. 25 – 26 love is the magnetic grace through which God seeks to attract the world
D. vs. 26 love is the ingredient that the Lord prays will be within his followers. The idea is not to obliterate our differences; but, to see that god’s love is big enough to encompass all of them, so that the world may come to know that same love.
Conclusion: On her Golden Anniversary a grandmother explained the secret of her long and happy marriage to her family. “On my wedding day, I decided to choose 10 of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,” she explained. A guest asked her to name some of the faults. “To tell the truth,” she replied, “I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten.’”
For the church to live into its full potential we must not only believe; but also live in the oneness and unity of love for each other.
In vs. 22, Christ Jesus says there is “glory” in this loving unity; but, the glory cannot be separated from the crucifixion. It is self-giving love that is resurrection into new life.