Sundays: 9 & 11am LATEST MESSAGE

May They All Be One

Charlie Boyd - 1/24/2021

With the inauguration of our new President, there’s a lot of talk about unity.” President Biden put it this way, “Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness, and fury; no progress, only exhausting outrage; no nation, only a state of chaos.” He said, “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. We must meet this moment as the United States of America." That phrase, “unity is the path forward,” is true. Still, the only way unity will be possible in our deeply divided nation is if our unity rests on a higher value than expecting everyone to see eye-to-eye on everything. And, unity will only be possible if we do not demonize those who disagree with us. But even worse than the division in our country is the division that has come to churches across our country. For many Christians, their personal politics and their hope that this personality or that personality can “save” us has made it almost impossible for them to see those who disagree with them as even being true “Christians.” If our unity is not anchored in the Gospel, then there’s no hope for the church. The church has no voice if we have no unityThe church has no validity apart from unity. The church has no vitality without unity. The church has no mission apart from unity.

So, how can the church attain the unity for which Jesus prays with the current political climate being what it is? Well, interestingly enough, the division in the church created by our current political climate intersects directly with something Jesus taught, or better, something Jesus modeled for us. In fact, the only time that the word “unity” appears in the Gospels is when Jesus is doing this one essential activity. So, what is that essential activity? It’s prayer

Here’s the “big idea” for this message—“Prayer is the pathway to unity.” So, hold that thought, first, we’ll walk through the passage, and then we’ll come back to the “big idea” at the end of the message.

Read John 17:20-23 —In v20, Jesus is clearly praying for us. We are the “ones who will believe” in Jesus through the message of the apostles. Again, the point is, Jesus is praying for you and me and FG. And, in these verses, Jesus is specifically praying for what he most wants for us. Here’s what he wanted to protect more than anything else as we carry his mission forward in a hostile world—that they all may be one. Unity ties our holiness and our mission together. Unity is something that must be protected at all costs. And that’s what we’re going to look at this morning—our unity. The question is, What kind of unity is Jesus talking about here? A common thread runs through vv11, 17, 20-22, 22, 23, and that is, there is a direct connection between the unity of the church and the truth of who Jesus is. Here’s my first point—Our unity rests in the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the Gospel message preached by the apostle and passed down to us through their preaching and what we now have recorded for us in the New Testament.

Now, do you know why Jesus prayed for oneness—for our unity? Jesus prays to his Father in Heaven, “The reason I want them to be one is so when the world—not the people in the church, but the people outside the church—so that when they see unity in diversity in my church, the world will come to the conclusion that you have sent me.” Jesus is telling us that unity isn’t an add-on. No, unity is mission-critical. He’s saying, “Unity is the pathway forward.” Here’s my second point—Our unity results in the world being able to see who Jesus really is.” And that means we must never allow anything or anyone to divide us because, according to Jesus, there’s way too much at stake. It was the teaching of Jesus—not our political parties—that laid the groundwork for our modern sense of justice and fairness and the dignity of every single individual, no matter who they are or where they came from.  

It’s true, we haven’t gotten that right all the time, and we continue to get it wrong sometimes, but our hope is not in a perfect political party. No, our hope is in the message and the mission of Jesus in this world to do something no political party can do, and that is, make old hearts new. That’s what a unified church is all about. So, why in the world would we allow ourselves to be divided over lesser things?

Let’s pray as Jesus prayed here. Remember our “big idea?” “Prayer is the pathway for unity.” Here’s a prayer I picked up from Andy Stanley that is simple yet profound—“Heavenly Father, make us one, so we can influence many.” Make us one, so we can influence many. Make me one with brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I disagree politically so that we can influence many. Bring Fellowship Greenville to “complete unity” around the Gospel—make us one so we can influence many. I challenge you to pray this prayer every day and throughout each day in this coming week. Think, what would FG be like, if we became an answer to this great prayer Jesus prayed for us?

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.