Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
As we approach Easter, it seems appropriate to look at what was on our Savior's heart as He approached what He called His Glorification - John 12:23.
We have talked about death bed confessions in the past; their gravity, their validity -- So what about Jesus. What was important to Him as He faced His death. What was on His mind. Of all the things He could discuss with His Father, what do you suppose took pre-imminence? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, You did. Jesus specifically prayed for his apostles, then in John 17:20 a true Nugget arises. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;" I will submit to you that no one in history that has been saved, was so, apart from the original testimony/preaching of these disciples. That would (If Jesus is your Lord) be you. Wow. We weren't collateral damage, we were specifically targeted.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" Eph. 1:4. So ----- You were chosen, and thought of, prayed for, by our Lord when the weight of the world was literally on Him. As He sweat blood in anxious anticipation of what was to come. You. Wow. But to what end. For what purpose. You were the object of His prayer, but what was His hope for you? Unity. "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:22-23.
We Christians sometimes relegate unity to a lesser desire of God. Way below giving up our fun stuff, or sacrificing this or that, but know this. To the degree God loves unity: ( "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" Psalm 133:1), Satan Hates it. God's Church, and the unity there of has been under direct attack since the beginning. "But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another" Gal. 5:15.
All the early Churches had baggage. Ephesus, Colossi, Philippi had two bickering women in particular. Where did the first deacons come from? ---- A fight about what to do with two groups of widows. If you look at the diversity of your congregation, the diverse gifts, backgrounds, denominational baggage, and just personal preference, Unity is Supernatural. So how do I know? Well, in most areas the Bible is very clear about what is right and what is wrong. Some things are sin and forbidden. But the Bible is not primarily a book of rules. It certainly contains rules, but is primarily a Book of Principals. "What's the greatest commandment?" the disciples asked. "The First" Jesus answered. " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. In this all the law and the prophets are summed up". If we kept just these two, we could toss the rest. No law, no lawyers (sorry).
This second commandment is where our unity is most often challenged. The overwhelming majority of disunity resulting in splits and fusses is almost never over matters of clear doctrinal commands, but rather personal preference. The test is that we love un-lovable people. If everyone were just your cup of tea, where would be the obedience? God isn't suggesting that we accept one another, He is Commanding It. Why? "that the world may know that thou hast sent me". If this is true, the reciprocal is also true. If I want people to believe that Jesus was sent to pay the penalty for their sins, I Must Love My neighbor. It is job one. Nothing else I do on His behalf is valid absent my love for my brothers and sisters. "in as much as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me". I am never more like Jesus than when I forgive someone who doesn't deserve it. Like me. God bless.