“A Living Unity that Attracts our Neighbors!”
Message #5 on February 4, 2018
John 17:20-23 (NASB)
by Pastor Jerry Ingalls
John 17 helps us experience this mind-blowing truth: JESUS PRAYS FOR YOU PERSONALLY because God’s plan for your life is for you to become the best version of you to the glory of God!
God has a personally-customized plan for your life to bring Him glory. God desires an ongoing partnership with you so that you fulfill His plan for your life. God’s plan for you is to have Jesus’ JOY made full in you (John 17:13). Does a life of thriving for your family, school, workplace, and communities sound good? That’s the whole point—it’s attractive on purpose! Your life and our lives together are to be like a bonfire in a camp ground: welcoming, attractive, and safe for many. The best version of you attracts your neighbors to Jesus!
We have learned from Jesus’ prayer that we are called into a relationship with Jesus Christ and brought into the Church to bring God’s glory to the world. We are in a loving and growing relationship with Jesus Christ not to take us out of the world, but so that we can walk with spiritual authority over evil in the world. We are a people who have been saved to be a rescue mission!
Our salvation comes with a purpose—to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Loving unconditionally those who are hard to love. Forgiving freely those who have never tasted of Jesus’ first forgiveness; and serving wholeheartedly—for their sake—those who need our social compassion and practical helps. I’ll give one painful illustration so that we know that this is a practical, and not theoretical topic: our church in the last year has had people want to turn away new people because they thought they were a threat to their personal safety. What did we do? I stood as a shepherd at the front door of the church and said ALL ARE WELCOME, including the people who are cleaned up and “safe” and those who are not cleaned up and in need of Jesus’ “security.” I (and WE) must love our community: those in the church who have forgotten our mission as well as those who are the mission who need the Church to be less churchy and more rescue. Is the current disunity of forms and function of the Church what Jesus intended? I don’t think so! That’s the point: The Church’s unity falls apart when we lose the mission and forget why we are gathered together in the first place.
Listen to the first half of Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17:20-23. [Read NASB text.] Let’s pray.
Here is the big take-home truth: The best version of you attracts your neighbors to Jesus! I believe Jesus is praying for us that we would have “a living unity that attracts our neighbors!” This begins by God rescuing us from the world by giving us a loving and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. His rescue of us is signed, sealed, and eternally secured by the Holy Spirit. Jesus prays in verse 20, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” Remember John 3:16 and come into this relationship by FAITH ALONE!
The Mission of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ must be central to all discussions of our unity. Unity is not found in us agreeing to water down the Bible or being agreeable to a certain way to do Sunday mornings or finding a common social cause in our community. The Church’s UNITY is ALIVE IN JESUS. Listen to Jesus’ prayer in verse 21, “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” IN JESUS, we have a “living unity” because of the presence and power of God in us. God gives us Himself. The Holy Spirit is not a power you seek (He is not an ‘It’!), but He is the Person of God who lives in us. God makes us one; we don’t make ourselves one. That is why I call the Church’s unity a “living unity” because if it becomes a dead doctrine instead of a living reality, then we need revival. And with only love for us, I say to you, we need revival.
In Ephesians 4:13, the Apostle Paul teaches us that we are the “body of Christ.” A body is a metaphor for a living unity! We are the body of Christ being built up in Jesus by Spirit-led leaders in the church, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man [one body], to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit first unites you with Jesus, just as Jesus is united with the Father. The Holy Spirit not only unites you into fellowship with God, but fellowship with the body of Christ. True Christian unity flows out of divine union with God. Our oneness is not from ourselves or for ourselves; it is from God and for the world we are sent back into. We are called out of the world and made one with God so that we can go back in the world and show them what God has done in us to make us one. The best version of you attracts your neighbors to Jesus!
Our living unity will attract our neighbors! This is Jesus’ prayer for His Church!
How do we share with our neighbors what Jesus has done for us? It does not require classes! You can have those and still not do it! Because it happens with oneness—the union with God—that Jesus gave us. This is the ongoing partnership with the Holy Spirit that we discussed last week. Listen to Jesus’ prayer in verse 22, “The glory which you have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.”
The major obstacle to our mission fulfillment is that we think we are the beginning and the end of God’s mission! You are automatically recruited into the rescue mission upon being saved. This is not radical Christianity, the work of elite Christians, this is the basic call of following Jesus. With your rescue comes everything you need to mature into rescuing others. The reason we forget this or don’t do this is simple!
Let’s look in the mirror: First Christianity is about our salvation and then becoming a member of the right church where I can escape from the world that I have been saved from (and thank goodness God only saves people that I feel comfortable gathering with), ALL so that we may live a blissful life on earth as close to heaven as we can until we go to Heaven. I cannot tell you emphatically and boldly enough how much I must say, “NO!” to that perversion of Christianity. That is nothing more than a compromise with culture. We are saved to be the Church so that our living unity as the body of Christ can rescue those who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ that is the world’s only hope. Our oneness is about the mission Jesus came to live and die for; we are called to join with Jesus in the greatest rescue effort ever made. This is the mission that brought Jesus to the earth. The best version of you attracts your neighbors to Jesus!
Listen to Jesus’ prayer in verse 23, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” We love so that the world may see that we are His disciples. We must check the motives of our own hearts. We don’t love one another so that we will become one or feel like one. We already are one ‘in Jesus’; therefore, we love one another SO THAT others will be rescued to join the movement of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus taught when He summarized everything in one command: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Jesus’ prayed in verse 23, “so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” Love is the climax of Jesus’ teaching! “We love, because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And did you hear how much Jesus said God loves you. Listen closely, this will change your life and every which way you think and live: “and loved them, even as You have loved Me!” This is the most important truth ever given to you and one Jesus personally prayed: The Father loves you with the same love He loves Jesus! God’s love for you is not theoretical; it was made tangible with the coming of Jesus Christ and the Cross.
We are now called to take Jesus’ tangible love and bring it to our community—always inside this building are we to be on mission. It should be our deepest desire to be a rescue mission, not a pristine museum of past rescue efforts, but always cleaning up and keeping up with the current and next rescue mission! We are to go out and to have open arms for the community that comes in.
We have been saved and brought into the church in order to love unconditionally, forgive freely, and serve wholeheartedly. All to the glory of God! We were saved to be rescue people and yes, that starts with those in our church and in our families—we have to start somewhere—but we must carry this to our neighbors and communities! So, let’s love, let’s forgive, and let’s serve one another really well!
This is #forHenry! The best version of you attracts your neighbors to Jesus! We are to have a living unity that attracts our neighbors! We are the rescue mission of God’s love—the same love that sent Jesus into the world to die on the Cross!
Will you join the rescue mission? Now that you have been rescued and are secure in God’s love, who else can you help save?