Follow along with the latest message from Pastor Barrett Berry and the Empowered Living Church
Summary: As Christ is For the Church and its unity, so should weAs Christ is For the Church and its unity, so should we. As Christ is For the Church and Key Scripture John 17:1-25 (NIV): 17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between a spotlight and a laser beam? How can a medium-power laser burn through steel in a matter of seconds, while the most powerful spotlight can only make it warm? Both may have the same electrical power requirements. The difference is unity.
A laser can be simply described as a medium of excited molecules with mirrors at each end. Some of the excited molecules naturally decay into a less excited state. In the decay process they release a photon, a particle of light. It is here that the unique process of the laser begins. The photon moves along and tickles another molecule, inviting another photon to join him on his journey. Then these two photons tickle two more molecules and invite two more photons to join the parade. Soon there is a huge army of photons marching in step with each other. It is this unity that gives the laser its power. A spotlight may have just as many photons, but each is going its own independent way, occasionally interfering with other photons. As a result, much of its power is wasted and cannot be focused to do any useful work. However, the laser, because of its unity, is like an army marching in tight formation and is able to focus all its power on its objective.
The Power of ONE:
In Christ’s prayer for His Church, He asserts our essential unity and prays for our incarnational unity. Just as in Jesus’ incarnation, he took on flesh and lived among us, so we are called to live out this profound oneness Jesus calls us to.
In this high priestly prayer of Jesus, He shows us there is great power when the body of Christ is truly ONE. This text shows us that the greatest declaration of the gospel to the world is seen and experienced through the unity of the body of Christ. We see a promise wrapped up in the prayer of Jesus. He says that when the world sees the Church being ONE, they will know that Jesus was sent from His Father (that His incarnation was true), and that the Father loves the world as He loves Jesus. Both of these truths are life-changing, eternity changing truths.
This is why we must wrestle with our big idea today: As Christ is For the Church and its unity, so should we.
We see Jesus building a foundation for the power of this oneness of the church throughout this passage:
In John 17, Jesus teaches us that as the Church, we are called to share His love and concern for the Church and to help be the solution of His concern by recognizing the following:
Our Common Privilege: In vss. 6-8, Jesus asserts our common privilege as those who have received His revelation of the Father.
Our Common Status: Next, in vss. 6, 9-12, Jesus asserts our common status, which is owned by God and kept by Him.
Our Common Challenge: Next in vss. 14-19, Jesus asserts our common challenge of the opposition and hatred we will experience in the world, and our need to maintain our distinction from the world.
Our Common Union: Finally, in vss. 20-23, Jesus asserts our common union with each other, and with Him and the Father. He shows us that our unity as the Church reveals the unity that He has with the Father. This should lead us to demonstrating an incarnational unity that reveals the unity of Christ and the Father. And as we have already discussed, this unity will declare to the world that the Father sent Christ, and that the Father loves the world as He loves Jesus.
APPLICATION OF TEACHING / THOUGHTS TO PONDER:
OPTIONAL SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS:
The Titans’ Movie Illustration:
Consider using the illustration or a clip from the movie, The Titans. They were in fierce competition with one another until they realized that they were on the same team. When they used the diversity and strength together, this high school team could win. When the church gets beyond competition and uses our diversity as our greatest strength, we will, in Paul’s words, win more for Christ.
Holding Hands Illustration:
The story is told of a time when a little child in an African tribe wandered off into the tall jungle grass and could not be found, although the tribe searched all day. The next day the tribal members all held hands and walked through the grass together. This enabled them to find the child, but due to the cold night he had not survived. In her anguish and through tears, the mother cried, “If only we would have held hands sooner.”
It is not enough that we all share a common goal. We must all work together to accomplish it without hesitation.
CLOSING THOUGHT / CHALLENGE:
Remember, unity is the one thing that cannot be left to chance. We must be willing to fight for unity. The stakes are too high. So in a way that reinforces the Big Idea, challenge your congregation to ask themselves what it looks like for them to be For the Church.