This morning we continue our series entitled, “The Power of Fellowship.” All week we have been looking at the prayer Jesus prayed for us in John 17. Let’s go back to it today as we continue to talk about fellowship.
(From John 17:20-26)
Jesus said: “I pray not only for these followers but also for those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me. I gave them this glory so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them, and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me…”
Jesus prayed for all of His followers to be ONE. Jesus as He was ONE with the Father and the Father was ONE with Him, Jesus prayed that we would be ONE in them. Are we doing that today? Are we fulfilling this prayer? Take a moment to think about some of the things you have allowed to cause separation between you and other believers. Today I will mention a few; things I am led to address. I will discuss doctrine, race and offense.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. As followers of Jesus, many of us have allowed DOCTRINE to keep us from being ONE.
a) Jesus prayed for all of His believers to be ONE. But when you think about it today, you can make the argument that Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans, Holiness, Pentecostacls, Word of Faith, Church God, Church of Christ, and Church of God in Christ members are NOT ONE! We have allowed doctrinal differences to divide us and I am sure this is displeasing and disheartening to God. It’s time for this to stop.
b) Some Christians baptize babies, others don’t. Some sprinkle when they baptize, others immerse. Some believe in tongues and miracles, others believe they passed away. Some worship on Sunday, others on Saturday. Some are loud, others are quiet. Some dance, others sit. And I could go on. Honestly, none of this truly matters. At the end of the day, we all believe in Jesus. We all believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life, that He died on the cross for our sin, that He was raised from the dead with all power in His hands, that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and that His Kingdom will have no end. If we have all this in common, then we have too much in common to be uncommon. Please don’t allow the name on your church or the style of your worship to divide you. If you are covered by the Blood of Jesus, you are my brother or sister. Period. Let’s be ONE!
2. As followers of Jesus, many of us have allowed RACE to keep us from being ONE.
I grew up in a segregated environment. East New York, Brooklyn was filled with Black and Brown people when I was a child. We were all basically prejudice against Caucasians and vice-versa. We were products of our environment. I saw firsthand how ugly racism can be. I was delivered from racism in my teens, because of an ugly incident in Howard Beach, Queens, and this happened before I gave my life to Christ. So you can only imagine how confused I was when I was Born-Again, in Christ, giving my heart to God, fully accepting my brothers and sisters IN HIM, only to see racism in the church. It’s sad to say, but 11am Sunday morning is the MOST segregated hour in the United States. We can work together, play together, and work out together, but when it comes to worship, many believers go their separate ways. This should not be. Jesus prayed for us to be ONE. Let’s put His prayer in action. It’s time for us to see multi-ethnic and multiracial congregations all over this country. There are some, but there should be more. Let’s pray and act. Let’s see God’s children come together as ONE.
3. As followers of Jesus, many of us have allowed OFFENSE to keep us from being ONE.
a) The Bible does teach us NOT to offend others, but it also teaches us NOT to be easily offended. This series is about fellowship and unfortunately, many believers fail to have and enjoy true fellowship because they have been offended in the past and they refuse to get past it.
b) I am not making excuses for the people who caused the offense. Yes, they need to address their ways. But my focus this morning is on the people who choose to remain offended. Forgiveness is a choice. Just like not forgiving and maintaining a root of bitterness is a choice. Whenever we have an altar-call and we ask people who have bitterness or unforgiveness in their hearts to come for prayer, the altar is always packed. I am not sure why people walk around with bitterness in their hearts. There are people right now who are walking around offended, upset and bitter, over things that happened years, and even sometimes decades ago. You know this is NOT the will of God. If this is you, please open your heart to forgive and to LET GO this morning.
c) Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and thinking the other person is going to get sick. The only person you are hurting is yourself. In many cases, the other person has gone on with his/her life. They are not even thinking about you. Please let it go. God can heal your heart so you can have true and meaningful relationships. This is His desire. Fellowship is His best!
Declaration of Faith:
Father, You sent Your Son Jesus to unify the world. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians; rich and poor, young and old, male and female, have all accepted Jesus as Lord. Jesus prayed for us to all be ONE, just as You were ONE with Him. I declare, by faith, that we are. I will do my part. I get past whatever is dividing us, so we can be united in You. And I refuse to harbor bitterness, malice or unforgiveness in my heart. I am quick to forgive, always willing to love, and open to having true fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. May we all be ONE, just as You and Jesus are ONE! I declare this by faith! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!