The church community will shine the brightest and best when all unite as the body of Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is to be the vision that unites all people.
The Apostle Paul talk about being united in ministry. Most of his letters to the various Christian communities were based upon that one fact….we are made to join around the vision of Jesus for the sake of the world. Whatever the world throws at us that seeks to dimish, divide, or conquer us needs to be removed from our lives. Jesus even talked about being ONE as the Father and he were one.
May all be one (Greek: ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, inapantes hen ōsin) is a phrase derived from a verse in the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John (17:21) which says: that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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.
Those first disciples of Jesus were contagious! They were fired up but the Spirit of him. They were one with Jesus and one with each other and one for the world.
Will you allow God to do this with you? Will you dream big and boldly? Will you fling wide thedoors and draw all people together to be the church that God has in mind? This is solely up to you and the power of God that needs to be lived within your lives. Disciples of Jesus cannot look backward. Disciples of Jesus cannot relive the past. Disciples look to the future. They create anew. All are freed to create anew.
One of those prayers that Susan and I pray often is from Ephesians 3:14-21:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Just think on these words:
Every family……Jesus is for every family….everychurch….every people. There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He may strengthen you…..he is the power source….he is the light….he is the transformer….the electricity…..for your life. Count not on yourselves but count solely on him.
Inner being…..you have an inner being….a soul…..a spirit…that needs to be nurtured and loved. God gives us the church to do that for each other.
Dwell in our hearts through faith….Christ dwells in us. Christ grows us. If we hold on to tightly to the past – to our own ideas – then we are limiting what God can do. Laying down our life…..our jobs…our identities…..giving up our selves…..is the beginning of new life. Those who lose their life for Jesus sake will find their lives! Losing is winning in Jesus. Totally counter to the world’s story but we are made for more than this world!
Pray to be rooted and grounded in love…..a tree has roots – the roots are often larger than what you see above the surface…the roots span outunderground….a network of roots to make the tree strong….to withstand the wind….the trials…the storms…..Prayer does that for the church….praying for each other…praying for the world…..praying for our church…..we need God and God needs us….we are made to do life together.
The power to comprehend the love of Jesus…..it is hard to imagine…but it is not impossible to believe. The love of Jesus is so vast….it is to draw us together. That love when shared shapes and defines everything else. Without love in our faith lives we are a noisy gong and a clanging symbol…but with that love the church experiences life. May your minds be stretched to imagine the infinite God possibilities for us and for the world.
Be filled with the fullness of God……imagine your life overflowing with God…what would that look like? What would a life like that be able to do? That to me is a vision of heaven on earth…I want that full life…that meaningful life….that purposeful life in all that I say and do. This means being more tomorrow than we are today….and more the day after the next…always growing and living into the people that God has created us to be. Be not full of yourselves. Be not full of anxiety and fear. Be full of God.
God will do immeasurably more than we would ask for or imagine…..WOW! Just think…not with your head…but your heart. Dig into your soul and be blown away by the fact that God will do greater things with us than we think possible. The challenge…do we really believe that with God all things are possible? Do we really believe that God is capable of producing an abundance in us? God believes in us! God believes in us! Make plans…..and then make them bigger than that…because that is our God. If God were fully in charge of shaping our communities and world what could that look like? If God were shaping aworldwide vision what would that be? Nothing is off limits for God. Be bold in believing in this! And then give yourselves to this brand new life that is to come!
All generations…..we live not for ourselves…but for those who come after us. Will our children experience faith and life and hope because of our trust in Jesus? Will they see Jesus in us? The only chance they have for a living faith is to see Jesus alive in us! May it be so.
Jesus came to his disciples after his resurrection and he showed them the wounds on his hands and his side. He did not come back whole. He came back wounded. Jesus teaches us that in our weaknesses we are made strong. Our wounds are ever present but our new life is even stronger than that. Jesus commissioned them….do not stand here….but go…get out there into the world….and create….stir up life….be my people….be radically joy-filled….be contagious in faith….be an empty tomb people.
If Jesus has been raised from the dead…..then we need not fear. Life and love are going to win. I am confident of this. Life and love are going to win.
As a pastor I have been challenged. I have been broken. I have been disappointed. But never have I doubted the ability of God to raise up a people for resurrection living in this world. I see it in your eyes. I see it in your hearts. I see it in the journeys that you have been through. God is here – alive and well in each of you.
Do not let the voice of the devil get into your heads and tinker with your minds. Jesus says I will not leave you orphaned….I have sent you an advocate….and the one who will always be with is goes by the name….Holy Spirit. You got that Spirit…yes you do! You got that Spirit …yes you do.
None of us can ever fully know what the future holds…..but we know the one who hold the future…his name is Jesus. And it does not matter whether we are in the right hand or left hand of God, all that matters is that we are in God’s hands. This is resurrection faith!
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Amen.