No Ordinary Unity

No Ordinary Unity

God’s vision for the church is that his children are unified in their love for Jesus and their love for each other.  That the walls that are so prevalent in the world would not exist in his Church and all our relationships would be marked by gratitude.

Outline

PROBLEM

  • In a consumeristic community we see neighbors in utilitarian ways. We ask, “How do they make things better or worse for me?”
  • I think we underestimate how many white Americans grieve over our racism and would give anything to have a church that helps them get over it.”

DIVIDING WALL

  • Ephesians 2:11-22
  • Court of Gentiles, Court of Women, Court of Israelites, Court of the Priests. In 1871 archaeologists actually found this dividing wall that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of Women.: “Do not proceed any further for fear of death.”

GOSPEL

  • Difference between invention and innovation.
  • Christ died to create something the world had never seen. Jews and Gentiles, people who hate each other, coming together, doing life with one another, sharing meals together, and worshipping together.
  • Out to have a diverse church. Simple: We preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • His gospel reaches across ethnic lines and brings people together.
  • Christ wants us to succeed at our evangelistic task

AGENDA – FIG

  • On his way to the cross, Jesus pauses to curse a fig tree (Mark 11:12-14). Walking past a fig tree in leaf, he notes that the tree bears no fruit. Mark comments that “it wasn’t the season for figs” [Mark 11:13]. Refusing to praise the tree’s foliage, Jesus curses the tree. Why curse a tree for having no figs when it’s not the season for fruit? The next day the fig tree that Jesus cursed—even though it was not the season for fruit—had withered. Better pray for fruit, because if you are unfruitful (in spite of the season) Jesus will curse.
  • Illustration: “I hope that your granddaughter will not bring her little friend back next Sunday. It’s not that I am prejudiced, it’s just that I am sure the child and her family would be happier elsewhere.”
  • As Jesus and his disciples walk past the dead tree, Jesus urges, “Have faith in God,”
  • He must have faith in us to believe that with his help, we could become fruitful. Lack we faith that Jesus can make us fruitful?
  • All cultures are stained by sin, but that every ethnic group also contains resemblances of the beautiful image of God.
  • the dinner table, in boats, hiking up a mountain, on trips.
  • one agenda—to encounter Christ. And we encounter Christ through each other.  
  • A noblewoman wrote to John Wesley beseeching Wesley’s help with her spiritual life. Miss March (that was her real name) was converted at one of Wesley’s meetings. But now the flame of faith that once burned brightly in her had cooled. Could Wesley suggest some spiritual practices that might strengthen her faith? Well, Wesley wrote back to her without sympathy, telling her that he had contempt for superficial “gentle women” like her, telling her that if she were to be a true Christian then she needed to obey Jesus. Whereas she had told him that she was visiting in the prisons one day a week, a rich person like her probably needed to be with prisoners three times a week. It was as if Wesley said, “Hey lady, don’t come whining to me about your lack of religious feeling—allow the people you despise to be your saviors. Go where you have the best chance of meeting Jesus!” Today’s parable implies that if we are to see Jesus at the end, right now we’ve got to go where he hangs out. Here’s the good news: because of who Jesus is and what he is doing among “the least of these,” you can do this.

GOD’S VISION

  • Specifically, we should take our heavenly multi-ethnic reality and inject it here. When John looks into heaven he says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). John did not see a homogeneous vision of heaven in which there was only one type of person. John saw blacks with whites and Asians with Latinos, a multi-ethnic community being shaped and formed.
  • What if we became known as the people that God is really working on, the people grappling with God? What if we became known . . . as people who sought something more than our own gain, sought real relationship with people . . . people who were willing to change structures, policies on the local, state, and national level? What if we became known as the people who are willing to change even our own church culture and worship style so as to truly make others feel welcome?
  • The best days of this congregation may be awaiting us. We’re God’s answer to what’s wrong with the world. God’s got miraculous work to do, through us. There is still time to move from boring, humdrum congregational maintenance toward the adventure of joining Jesus in his cultivation of a new, fruitful people (church, us) who in our lives, in our words, in our congregation show the world what God can do. There are signs, wonders, new territory to be explored, the fruit of love awaiting cultivation and harvest. By the grace of God, for our church—in a dying, enslaved-by-racism, divided America—there is still time. God’s got amazing stuff to show us. Let the deeper digging, truth-telling and truth-hearing begin. God give us fruit of the Spirit! Hallelujah! By the grace of God, there’s still time!