The church must UNITE in the focus of mission and the Gospel. This is an incredible priority of Jesus Himself (the Head of the Church) in His prayer found in John 17. I can’t get this prayer out of my mind – so I’m praying it with Him. And I’m praying more boldly and more loudly for this than ever before. And you should be, as well.
Why? Well, look around you. I don’t know where you live and worship, but as a church – none of us are the same as we were 10 years ago. We’re not the same leaders, we’re not the same church, we’re not in the same community. Truthfully, we’re not even in the same country. Everything has changed around us. Our culture is more divided, more racist, more hostile and more hate-filled than at any other time in recent memory.
And the church? For the most part, we’re still fooling around. If we’re just as broken and fragmented as the world, do we really think anyone cares what our message is? Or that we can make a difference? So Jesus prays, “…that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them…” John 17:22-23
Stop. Read those words again! Read that prayer one more time. HE wants US to be as united as GOD is. As a friend of mine once said, “Is there any disagreement among the Godhead?” Jesus prays for us to be one in that same way.
Rick Renner says that, “…unity comes when people are united in action and in passion for a common cause. Their shared goal is so strong that it removes hostilities, puts away disagreements, and gives previously divided people a reason to take their place alongside each other. When this occurs, different gifts, talents, and anointings become connected together, and the result is an amazing river of divine power that achieves the supernatural and accomplishes the impossible.” I agree.
Pentecost is proof of this. So much diversity, so much lack of focus and confusion – all brought together by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. Those two things were happening at Pentecost. The Spirit and the Gospel.
How does this happen today? 1) God’s people learn to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 2) We learn to focus on the Gospel. That’s it. Those two huge divine priorities will take over the rest of our little agendas, but it will require a deep level of prayer, discipline and sacrifice.
I love the fact that I am called to pastor a church that is increasingly and incredibly diverse! I love looking around us and seeing people of every background, race, language (some 40 nationalities represented every week) at First Euless. It’s powerful to see how we put teams together for ministry, for the Gospel, for prayer – and they are as diverse as our community is. God is up to something huge.
But it counts for nothing if we’re not filled with the Spirit and focused on the Gospel.
And if we are filled and focused? That is the church united that Jesus is praying for. That is the church the world needs.
Thoughts from John Meador and insights from God's Word.