Summary: Unity is found when we fully give our lives to Jesus Christ.

Title: What the World Needs... is a Unified Church

Text: Ephesians 4:1-6

D.T.: Unity is found when we fully give our lives to Jesus Christ.

- You could probably guess this, but I am not the hunting type. It's just not me, but you see whenever we go to Stacey's father's house in Buhler, Kansas which is in the middle of wheat fields, her brothers like to go bird hunting. Now let me say again, I am not the hunting type... the only thing I have ever hunted for is the remote control. But, a few years ago, the brothers decided that it would be fun to take me along on their annual Thanksgiving hunting trip. It was cold, windy, and we walked up and down a thousand miles of fields. And the only thing I shot at was a rabbit. And it took me close to an hour to even get that rabbit.... just call me Elmer Fudd.

- I assure you, that was the first time I have ever gone hunting, and that was the last time I will ever go hunting. Although, they are already trying to get me to go this Thanksgiving, but I am sure I will be busy doing something. Now what was interesting about that hunting adventure were the dogs. On the farm land we were hunting were a couple of hound dogs who were trained hunting dogs. And whenever those dogs were released and sent out into the fields, they were something. They would move up and down those fields with such ease and speed, those birds didn't have a chance. They would point and stir up the birds, and would do their job to perfection.

- But as well trained as those dogs were when they were doing their job, when the hunt was over, they were dumb as rocks, and as useless as slugs. All they could do when they were not hunting, was fight with one another.

- You know, I have heard it said that the church is a lot like a bunch of caged hunting dogs. You know the kind I just described. When those dogs are out in the fields, they go to work, sniffing and pointing and chasing... doing their job. But when you put those same dogs, who were so effective in the truck or in a cage, they start knipping at each other, and fighting and bickering.

- Caged hunting dogs don't work. And the same is true for the church. Like we said last week, we are supposed to be out there making a difference in the world, but instead, what we do, is we get in our own little world and we nip at one another, and we bicker with one another, and we nitpick one another. Often it sounds like this...

"Well, that's not the way we did it before."

"Well, what about my kids, or my grandkids."

"Well, what we do it that way for."

"Well, I don't know if I am comfortable with that."

- Nip, nip, bicker, bicker... and the whole while the church becomes more and more irrelevant. And the whole while the church becomes more and more divided. But, what the world needs is the church. The world needs a relevant church, and today we will focus on the world's need for a unified church.

- Scripture has much to say about division amongst people, and amongst the church.

Such as...

"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: (and one of those is...) a man who stirs up dissension (or division) among brothers." Prov 6:16,19

- And it is Jesus himself who warned, "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."

- And then Paul warns in Galatians 5:15, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."

- Stern warnings that must not be taken lightly. Perhaps the greatest black eye the church can suffer is when it stands divided, broken and without unity. And it can so easily happen to even the strongest of churches. But what the world needs, and what this community needs is a unified church. This church must stand unified in its purpose of encouraging and equipping God's people in order that we might share God's relevant message of hope and forgiveness to the lost people of Ipava and beyond. We must stand unified under God for this purpose to be accomplished.

- In fact, unity was Jesus' dying wish for his church. You are familiar with his words found in John 17, words spoken shortly before he was lead away to the cross. And in a moment of prayer, Jesus offers up this request to his Father...

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