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Hope Beyond Division: Reasons for Pulling Together, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
May 31, 2023 7:05 am

Hope Beyond Division: Reasons for Pulling Together, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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May 31, 2023 7:05 am

Hope Again: When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade

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Today, from Chuck Swindoll. They will all know that you're different. One would hope that most Christians attend churches where love and unity abound. But regrettably, many of us have witnessed our share of division among the brethren. Sometimes it's a passive undercurrent that stirs up a rift. Other times it's a scandal that rocks the very foundation of the church.

Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us this kind of friction isn't new. He's teaching from 1 Peter. In this study, we'll examine the biblical reasons for pulling together.

Chuck titled his message, Hope Beyond Division. To our shame, the world sometimes looks on Bible-believing Christians as self-seeking and factious, even unloving and fragmented. This is sometimes never more true than when we go through suffering. Remember Job's three friends who could do little more than be critical of everything in Job's life after he had lost everything, including his 10 precious children?

Remarkable thought. Pain often fragments relationships rather than unifying them. With these thoughts as a backdrop, we're better able to understand and appreciate Peter's comments toward the end of the first chapter of his first letter to those who were scattered abroad, living in extreme situations.

They were going through various trials. Some, no doubt, were tempted to conform, compromise, or give up altogether. Let me read for you from the first chapter of 1 Peter, beginning at verse 22. I'll read 1 Peter 1-22 through chapter 2, verse 3. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart. For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which was preached to you, therefore putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To dig deeper into 1 Peter with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Hope Beyond Division. One of the most profound commentaries made regarding the early Christians came from the lips of a pagan. He had been sent to spy out the Christians, and having seen them in action and having watched them in their assembly of worship, he returned with a mixed report, but he concluded his words to his superior with six words that have gone down in history and been repeated often through the centuries. He said, behold how they love one another. Behold how they love one another. I rather suspect that those are not words heard often in the secular world today by those who don't know Christ, having watched those who do. I wonder how many of them will say on Monday, behold how they hurt one another, or behold how they judge one another, or how they criticize one another, or how they fight with one another. Wouldn't it be wonderful every once in a while to read in the secular press about a group of Christians who were observed by non-Christians and the report came back how they love one another.

What a remarkable thing they represent today. This is the generation that has introduced the shameful practice of brother bashing and sister smashing. If the people didn't know better, I think they would believe that we are enemies rather than lovers and friends and family members. While General Stonewall Jackson was involved in the military, the troop morale got to an all-time low, almost to the point of mutiny. There was infighting, bickering, even literal fights among one another and a couple had determined to shoot one another until he finally took charge and called them together and said with a loud voice, remember gentlemen the enemy is over there.

I wonder if Christ in returning to this earth suddenly would say to all of us in our churches, ladies, gentlemen, young people, your enemy is over there. Love one another. Pull for one another. Support one another. Believe in one another. Care for, pray for one another.

Just think back over the last 12 to 15 months. Just think back over the recent past of church history. Have you been known as one who loves other Christians? Have you made that public? Have you been courageous enough to say it in circles where it would have been against the way things were going at the time?

Do you really pull for others in the family? Unity is an almost forgotten virtue and to underscore that statement I want to have you turn to a couple of sections of the gospel by John, first chapter 13 and then chapter 17 and then on our way to first Peter where there is such a lovely section toward the end of chapter 1 and into the early verses of chapter 2 talking about pulling together. We want to stop off at Philippians 2 for Paul's comment but just Jesus words in John 13. He is with his 12 for the last time they came into the room with unwashed feet. He noticed it and during the supper, according to verse 3, he rose, verse 4, he rose from the table and he laid aside his garments and put a towel around his waist and poured water from a pitcher into a basin and then he went about through the group washing the disciples feet.

What a scene it was. To this day you just sort of suck in your breath when you imagine the savior washing the disciples feet. When he finishes in verse 12, when he had washed their feet and had taken his garments, he reclined at the table again and he said to them, do you know what I have done to you? Now it wasn't fishing for the obvious answer I have washed your feet, that's not the answer. The answer is in verse 15, I gave you an example, that's what I have done to you. You know what I have done to you?

I have left an example for you. Now go back up to verse 13, you called me teacher and lord and you were right, for so I am. If I then, your teacher, your lord and teacher, washed your feet, now I would expect right here for him to say, you want to wash my feet and I think they would have gladly done so. Peter out of embarrassment, John out of devotion. But he doesn't say that.

In fact that's easy to do. Who wouldn't take any opportunity in life to wash the savior's feet? You prove nothing in doing that, he is easy to love. But his statement is, if I then the lord and teacher washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. Drop down to verse 34, same group except Judas has now left, they're all alone for the final hour together and Jesus says in verse 34, a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. Now watch closely, by this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. You may have thought when I began this talk that I was sort of picking at something rather minor, but as a matter of fact, I had my finger on one of the ways Jesus believed we ought to be witnessing.

And it had nothing to do with talking to the lost about their condition. It has everything to do with how we treat one another. He said, I give a commandment to you, love one another. If you want to make an impact on this rugged society that is moving in the wrong direction every year more rapidly, you love one another by this, they will all know that you're different. He doesn't even say, love me, though that is important, but that won't speak the volumes that loving one another will speak to the lost world. We're expected to love the Lord Jesus, he is our savior, but to love each other, that's unexpected.

And yet it is so stunningly eloquent when observed by the lost world. I would love to see the day when the Christians are so closely drawn together that you can't penetrate the circle. You can't get a wedge in at any point because the group is such a tightly knit team.

I don't believe I've ever talked to a coach who dreaded anything more than his own team turning against itself. If we stay together, you guys, if we pull together, we may not win all the games, but we'll have the time of our lives. We will finish this season at a high morale. They'll all know we're together.

Let's pull together. Over in chapter 17, Jesus is a few, perhaps not even hours, maybe minutes later. He is praying. It is his last prayer. This is the longest prayer recorded in all the Bible from the lips of Jesus. John 17 is an entire chapter of the Lord's prayer.

I'm intrigued by the things he asked for. Verse 9, I ask on their behalf, meaning the disciples, I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom thou has given me for they are thine. Verse 11, and I am no more in the world.

I'm leaving shortly. I will be gone, and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to thee, Holy Father, keep them in thy name, the name which thou has given me, watch closely, that they may be one, even as we are. Holy Father, nothing has ever broken our relationship. No enemy has ever penetrated and ruined our fellowship. Holy Father, keep them in your name that they may be one.

A tightly knit unit of love. Look at verse 20. Believe it or not, he prays for us in this ancient prayer. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, that's the 12, or the 11 faithful disciples, but for those also who believe in me through their word, that's you and me, indirectly we are believing in the Lord Jesus through the words of his followers. Verse 21, that they may all be one, even as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe, that thou didst send me. Lord, help them make an impact as the world sees they are one, one with you and me, and one with one another. And the glory which thou has given me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one. He doesn't stop there, I in them, thou in me. Now look closely, that they may be perfected, may I render it into a unit.

You notice the margin of the New American Standard Bible renders it that way. That they may be perfected into a unit, into a team, that they may be one. No more brother bashing, no more sister smashing, no more ugly gossip groups. Lord, may they speak of one another with support and encouragement and love and forgiveness, that they may be perfected into a unit. I'm interested also that he doesn't pray for our uniformity. We don't have to look alike, we don't even have to think alike, nor should we.

There's variety in the body. He doesn't even pray for unanimity. Every vote doesn't have to be one hundred percent. But we do have to be perfected into a unit. Our eyes on the same goal, our heart in the same place, our commitment at the same level. You don't have to look alike, you don't have to think alike, you can even disagree.

But you can still be a unit. Behold how they love one another. I wish they said that. I hope I'm not cynical when I say I think some groups outside Christianity must think behold how they lacerate one another.

How they shred one another. If there is anything that would keep me away from Christ these days if I were lost it would be the attitude of Christians toward one another. That would do it.

That would do it. I find a wonderful fellowship in this church that God has raised up. I feel affirmed and loved and warmed by the fire of your friendship and I hope you feel it back from me. I'll tell you I am in touch with some dear men in ministry. For the life of me I don't know how they stay at it. The conditions in which they labor are beyond belief. I talked with one just a couple of weeks ago who is now studying in his basement. He has to hide out the study because his church has been on him for three, four years to stop studying and just be out in the community just continually involved in the work of ministry. By the way they're not that involved. They want him to be and he is so low intimidated by a forty percent group that's in favor of him and a sixty percent group that's against him that he talked to me on the phone and though we are total strangers I heard of his condition from a friend who asked if I had time to call to encourage him when I do it.

So though we were total strangers we hadn't talked two minutes before he broke down in tears and he said I don't know what I would have done without your call. These are Christians or are they? Are these Christians? Is that how you treat a pastor? So that he has to hide to do the work of the ministry?

Something's wrong folks. Philippians chapter two is Paul's addition to my thoughts here. In fact I just picked a couple of verses that are so familiar you hardly need to turn the third and fourth verses of Philippians two. These verses if you put them into everyday language would sound like what you tell children in a nursery school. Verse three Paul writes to the Philippians do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. You see those are the things that interrupt a unit.

They break down the fellowship of a team. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but in contrast with a humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others. You talk about a great place to begin a scripture memory program start with verses three and four.

Just study those words. You'll learn the secret of getting along well in a family. To say nothing of getting along well in a church. If you're on a board and you're a board member of some church and you're wondering what's going wrong?

What's missing in the unity you once had? I guarantee you something is going wrong related to what you just read in verses three and four. You want to pull together as a family just obey verses three and four. Stop looking for the credit. Stop looking out for what you want in just an empty sense of conceit but with a humble mind. Look out for the other fellow. Have regard for her or for him.

Not your own personal interests only but the other person's interest. Just basic truth isn't it? Just simple stuff to live by.

That's what we teach our children as they're growing up. Share. Don't be selfish. Forgive.

Take time. Care. Pull together. I remember my earliest years growing up in the Swindoll family and my dad having those pep talks that related to sticking together as a family. He's saying he said to us we may have a few differences inside these walls but he said kids you remember if your brother or your sister needs you you take care of them. You love them.

You pull for them. As you listen to Chuck Swindoll teach today perhaps you were mulling over a troubling disagreement unfolding in your church family. There's much more wisdom that Chuck wants to share with you so please keep listening as he presents the message called Hope Beyond Division. This is Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry visit us online at insightworld.org. Please plan to join us again tomorrow. Chuck will spend the entire program offering insight from this passage in First Peter and in particular he'll describe the reasons for pulling together as a church. I'm pleased to remind you that Chuck wrote a helpful book on this topic as well.

Actually it's a classic. The book is called Hope Again When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade. You know getting beyond the hard stuff in life is rarely accomplished through our own strength. In your suffering God wants to draw near. He wants to share in your suffering and guide you toward recovery. We believe this 17 chapter book squarely founded on the wisdom in First Peter will help you. To purchase a copy of Hope Again go to insight.org slash store or call us.

If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. Bear in mind that your gift to Insight for Living large or small will be directly applied toward providing Chuck's teaching on your station and wherever you gain access to our program. Since our first broadcast in 1979 until now God has magnified the reach of this ministry through generous people like you.

Here's Chuck. I'm going to get a little personal here. Think back a few hours ago when you rolled out of your bed. Your feet hit the floor and you stumbled in front of that mirror. Be honest now.

What did you see? Let me guess. It wasn't the face of an evangelist. It wasn't Peter. It wasn't Mary Magdalene or the Apostle John. My guess is that you saw the rumpled version of you just out of bed.

I'll tell you that's what Swindoll saw this morning. But here's the point. None of us wakes up feeling like an evangelist. Truth be told few of us ever feel like an evangelist.

But even so no Christian gets a pass on the Great Commission. Jesus delivered not a suggestion but a direct command to every believer to go and make disciples of all the nations. So let me give you a simple way to exercise this privilege. As your radio pastor and friend I'm inviting you to join me in this rewarding responsibility to go and make disciples. When you give your donation to Insight for Living Ministries you are helping fulfill your Christian duty. Your financial gift is directly applied to telling others about Jesus and teaching new believers to study and to apply God's Word.

And the doors are wide open to reach more people than ever before. Next time you look at your reflection in the mirror take a moment to thank God for choosing you to be an ambassador for Him. Your simple gesture of generosity right now will make an eternal difference for someone who needs to hear the good news.

So please be very generous. And here's how to respond to Chuck Swindoll. If you have the Insight for Living mobile app just follow the simple instructions on making a donation. Or if you prefer to speak to someone on the phone call us. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. That's 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at Insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues our study in First Peter called Hope Again on Insight for Living. The preceding message Hope Beyond Division Reasons for Pulling Together was copyrighted in 1988, 1990, 1996, 2005, 2010 and 2023 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-30 14:41:39 / 2023-05-30 14:49:52 / 8

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