Be unified with one another by remaining in Christ.

 

John 17:20-26

 

A man is rescued after many years on a desert island.

As he stands on the deck of the rescuing vessel, the captain says to him, “I thought you were stranded alone. How come I can see three huts on the beach?”

“Well,” replies the castaway, “that one there is my house and that one there is where I go to church.”

“And the third one?” asks the skipper.

“Oh, that’s the church I used to go to.”

 

The guy could not even get along with himself how in the world are we to get along with each other?

Jesus prayed that we would be one and have complete unity. Many say that Jesus’ prayer has not been answered.  I think they misunderstand Jesus’ prayer.

 

John 17:20 “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. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

Verse 21 “may be one” and verse 23 “complete unity” is the same prayer.

When we believe we are in Christ and thus one with Him and one with each other.

 

The issue is not becoming one after we are in Christ it is becoming one in Christ.

 

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4  There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

Paul tells us in verse 3 that the unity of the Spirit is to be maintained, not attained. We have unity if and when we remain in Jesus.  When we agree with Him and His word.  We become divided when we get away from God’s word and add our 2 cents.  When we hold on to the truth we have unity.

 

John gives us a great example of this in his gospel

 

John 7:25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26  Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? 27  But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

 

That is not true – some were believing a lie and thus would not and could not agree on Jesus.

 

John 7:31 Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?”

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. …40  On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41  Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42  Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43  Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

 

There was division because some accepted the truth and some believed a lie. Unity does not come from agreeing; unity comes from believing the truth.

I guess we could agree that the grass is purple and we would be in unity but Christian unity is believing the truth of God.

 

There was and is division in the church because some are not following the truth.

 

1 Corinthians 11:17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18  In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19  No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.

 

The Jerusalem church had division; they had the Judaizers (Acts 11:2, 15:1), the Philippian church had women who would not agree (Phil 4:2,3) and Paul focuses on the issue of unity when he writes to the church at Ephesus.

 

These Christian were not maintaining the unity of the Spirit. It is not about what you want or believe it is about the truth.  We are unified unless you break the unity.

 

We became one when we were baptized into Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

 

That is the foundational issue – who is in Christ.

 

John 17:22 …that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me.

 

When is Christ in us? When do we clothe our self in Him?

 

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

 

Paul later reminds the Galatians that they too are in Christ.

 

Galatians 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Being in Christ is the essential. Accepting Jesus’ truth is essential.

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.”

What truth is non-essential?

It doesn’t matter what you believe if it does not deal with your salvation? Really

You are in Christ but you don’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture, you don’t believe sin is sin, and you don’t believe there is a hell.

 

I went to a community impact conference years ago and the speaker’s final challenge was for us to work together and put our petty differences aside, he mentioned several theological differences and then mentioned baptism.  The Baptist preacher I had eaten lunch with leaned over and said but to you that is essential. Yes, I said.

Baptism is an essential element of preaching Jesus. Believing, repenting of sin, and being baptized is the process in which we come into a relationship with Jesus – in the first sermon on the day of Pentecost Peter told the crowd,

 

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

If the first Gospel sermon included repentance and baptism so that we could be forgiven of our sins who are we to change the message.

 

Acts 8:34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”

 

Preaching Jesus is preaching baptism.

Jesus wants us to be one so that the world will know Jesus loves them.

Part of unity in Christ is loving one another.

If Christian can’t love each other how will the world know that Jesus loves them?

 

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

I love you and you love me, you can do what you think is right and I will do what I think in right and we will love each other and be tolerant. That is what our society thinks that verse means but we need to add context so we really understand what Jesus is saying.

 

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.

 

There is a standard to live by and we must hold one another to that standard of obedience and truth.

 

In our day Paul would be seen as a divider not a unifier. But according to Jesus he was unifying and loving because he was challenging Peter and the others to obey what Jesus said.

 

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

 

Unity comes when we all follow Jesus and obey His will. That is what the early Christians did.

 

Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

 

They were one in heart and mind. Because they were in Christ and they lived by His truth they were unified.  Their unity showed by their selfless attitude.

We share with our family and friends because we love them and have unity.  But if we don’t like someone or disagree with someone we don’t want to share.  We get selfish, we don’t think they deserves it.  Pride gets in the way and then there is more disunity.

But if we would live by the truth of Jesus selfishness and pride would be removed and we would be able to maintain unity in the Spirit.

To maintain unity, we must know the truth. We have to unify around the truth.  Therefore, we must study together.  Just because someone claims to be a Christian and following the truth doesn’t mean they are.

 

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

 

These people were doing “religious” acts but Jesus did not know them. They were not doing the will of the Father.  We must be faithful to do the will of the Father.

 

Just because some claims it is truth does not mean it is truth.

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

 

Preaching the truth will keep us from being condemned, so we must take serious our study to find the truth of the Gospel and not take someone else’s word for it or accept our preconceived ideas that are not based in God’s Word. On our way to the truth we must help each other as well.

 

Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be shepherds and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

 

How are you maturing in Christ? How are you helping others mature in Christ?

 

John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

The first step to have complete unity is for each of us to be in Christ. Do you need to become a Christian? Know that Jesus loves you and died on the cross for you.  You may have not seen the unity that Jesus prayed for but please don’t let the sin of some Christians prevent you from receiving the Grace of God.

 

Jesus loves you just where you are and He wants you to love and accept His gift of Salvation.

Will you repent of your sins – tell Him you are tired of living by your will and want to follow His commands.

Will you come and be baptized just like the Ethiopian eunuch who said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” after he heard the good news of Jesus.

 

Will you come as we sing?