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Jesus’ Prayer for Unity

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
September 20, 2020 1:55 am

Jesus’ Prayer for Unity

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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September 20, 2020 1:55 am

Today we begin a three-part discussion on unity with Lieutenant James Harvin and Commissioner Willis Howell. In this first episode, we start by studying Jesus’ prayer for unity and the church’s role in welcoming and celebrating diversity.

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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life, and hello to you, Cheryl. Hey, Bernie. How are you today?

I'm doing great. Awesome. I'm excited about this new series because we've got Commissioner Willis Howell, someone who used to be an announcer for this very program. And he's going to be interviewing a young African-American officer named Lieutenant James Harvin.

Yeah. I've had the opportunity, actually, to speak with James this past week. And he's a very sharp, impressive young officer. He's really invested himself in God's Word and in the training that he's been given. And he's proving himself to be a very effective minister.

For sure. Now, granted, the conversations you're about to hear are certainly through the lens of an American experience, but it's our prayer that this series will bless you no matter where in the world you're listening. Today, we start with Jesus' prayer for unity found in John 17. It's a joy for me to be with Lieutenant James Harvin. And in Salvation Army speak, he was commissioned, he was ordained in 2017.

So he's just a brilliant young Salvation Army officer with a heart for Jesus and a very keen mind. And it's a joy that we get to have this discussion today. So, James, it's not my show, but welcome to the show. I'm glad to be here, glad to be here, and a part of this wonderful ministry of Words of Life.

Yeah, good. I would like to do just a brief introduction. Most people don't know who I am, but— Let's hear who you are.

Yes. I'm Lieutenant James Harvin. I'm originally from New York City. Me and my father, we became homeless in New York and sleeping on Central Park benches, going into subway stations and all of this. But the Salvation Army was always a place of hope where we could receive a meal in Manhattan Citadel. And so, the Salvation Army and God has been using it for as far as I can remember to just bring hope and unity in our life. So that's why I'm here today. God called me to it, to be that same instiller of hope in the community where we are. So yeah, just to start off this discussion, we're going to be talking about unity and what is unity.

Obviously, the textbook definition is a state of being unified or joined together as a whole. But Jesus, in John chapter 17, talks about and prays about unity for us. Do you mind if we read that real quick? No, go ahead.

Okay. Jesus says, My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message that all of them may be one. Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, and that they may be one as we are one, I and them and You and Me, so that they may be brought in complete unity.

Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. Amen. There's an awful lot in there. Yeah. It's a lot to empower.

Where do you want to start? Well, what do we see here as far as unity, and what is God's intent for His children? Well, it's clear. The desire of Christ in His prayer is that His followers would be unified. Now, I think I'd like to make a distinction.

Okay. Unity isn't the same thing as uniformity. There is still going to be this incredible and wonderful diversity, even though we are unified in thought, unified in goal, unified in purpose, unified in what we want to see as outcomes.

It doesn't mean that the church needs to consistently and constantly be in lockstep, monolithic. So I want to make sure that not so much we, but the greater we, keep those distinctions in mind. Unity is agreeing that we want to see the same things.

Now how we get there, you talk about you're from New York, and right now I'm living in Atlanta, although I'm from up in that area myself. But if we agree that we want to arrive in St. Louis, well we agree on the goal, but how you go and how I go are going to be two different ways. So we are unified in our goal, unified in our desire, but not uniform in our means to achieve it. Now, just because we pray for unity, that's not enough.

A prayer in and of itself, and I'm certainly not diminishing our Lord's prayer here, it has to still be worked at and worked toward. So there is a great deal of effort that has to come into any desire for unity. Looking back in Genesis, we see how God created and breathed into existence all of creation and it worked in such harmony that we would be here, and then he created Adam and then he created Eve and they walked with God. So God's original intent is to be with his creation, with his people, and that union was broken as soon as it took a bite out of disobedience. And that's where we became divided from God. And so Jesus is that reconciliation in the flesh brought to earth so that we would be unified in believing in him. And yes, it is more than a prayer.

It has to be. It has to be action. It has to be our goal, but also to be so compelled, driven every day, to be unified not only with the Father, but also with one another. Chapter 8 of Mere Christianity. I love C.S.

Lewis. Yes. And Chapter 8 is The Great Sin. And it talks about pride, how it is the root of sin. It's when we believe that our ideas and our plans are better than what God has for us.

How do you see that in our world today? How is pride causing that division? I'm not sure that pride is causing it, but pride is certainly contributing to it. Pride is sin, and sin itself. Sin likes to hide.

Sin likes to disguise itself. What little I know about doctors who care for heart issues. You can come in complaining of a sore back or an upset stomach, but a doctor will say, let me check your heart. Well, no, it's my back. It's my stomach.

No. Oftentimes heart problems disguise themselves as something completely different, something completely other. Sin will want to disguise itself as something other so that we end up treating symptoms as opposed to the root, and sin is at the root. We do find ourselves puffed up with pride in so many different ways, but it will often, because it's sin, will often want to disguise itself. I'm not proud. I'm just self-assured. I'm not proud. I'm just dogmatic.

I'm not proud. I just feel that this, you see how it's wanting to deflect. If all of a sudden in the ceiling overhead, if there was a drip that continued to drip on this table, well, we could replace tiles all day long, but that's just dealing with the symptom. Where's the drip of water coming from? Is it a problem with the roof?

Is there a pipe? You've got to trace it back, and in the case of the sin that divides, you will always trace it back to this issue of my way is better than, because that's exactly what the temptation was. I know the Lord told us not to eat of this fruit, but I think I'll just try one bite. My way is better than what he has told me.

Yes. And so Jesus in this, he was sent to reconcile us back to the Father because of our disobedience, because the flesh has been running rampant and we have fallen, right? So right now and today, since we are so compelled by the Holy Spirit, we're driven by him, how do we get more of the Holy Spirit so that we can be unified? Because we know that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come from the Spirit, and all of those things are attributes so that we can be truly unified with one another, yes, but share and show the obedience to our Heavenly Father.

How do we have more of the Spirit to be unified? General Tilsley, one of General Tilsley's keen insights is that it's not that we need more of the Spirit, the Spirit needs more of us. He will fill whatever space we allow, whatever space we create. And so it's not like God the Father is doling out the Spirit with an eyedropper, you know, well here's a little more space, I'll give you a little bit, no. The Spirit comes in fullness, but if we only make a small space for him, then there's only that little bit of control he exerts. The Spirit of Christ is the perfect gentleman, he will never impose himself where he's not welcome.

And so the Spirit of Christ, if more space is made, if, figuratively speaking, closets are cleaned out, if hidden caches of sin and pride, if they are pointed to and admitted to, then the Holy Spirit can help us to clear that out, that he might take more of us as opposed to us having more of him. Amen. I like the way you put that, it's a spring cleaning, so to speak, of ourselves. Well isn't that what salvation ought to be? Yes.

Yeah. The only difference with spring cleaning, that's a great analogy, the only difference with spring cleaning is that it's not a one and done kind of thing. As we grow, as we deepen, as we mature in Christ, the Spirit will reveal to us, so this corner over here that you like to keep in the dark, can we maybe do something with that? And he'll always ask permission, he'll never just go in and start swinging, but he'll ask permission so that together we are making greater space, we are deepening ourselves, that he might have more of us. So as we grow, as we deepen, there is always something more. There is not a believer who is living or who has lived, short of Christ himself of course, who has ever said, I think I'm completely filled with the Spirit now, I'm good to go, work's done, what's next on the to-do list? No, there's always going to be something more, there's always going to be a greater depth to which we can aspire. Amen. So in light of where we are right now with the civil unrest and political divides, how is Jesus' prayer needed right now?

Yes, in our country right now, in the United States, there is a great deal of unrest and it's not just political, it's ideological, it's unrest regarding world views and perspectives. I think the church has a very key role to play. Christ in his prayer was saying, when the world sees the unity you have, the unity you are intended to have as the church, they will know that I have sent you.

They will know that God has sent me for the sake of the redemption and the reconciliation that we talked about earlier. And we, the church, have not done a good job. As long as church is something we do instead of something we are as believers, we're never going to gain ground on this. We've got to embrace our role as the church and we will also never build unity on unity alone as believers.

We will only build unity when we focus on Christ, his purpose, his mission, his kingdom, because we're always going to have our own tastes, our own takes, our own views. That's not a bad thing. In any relationship, I have a wife that we've been married for over 40 years.

You'll be stunned to realize this. We don't see everything eye to eye. But that's what adds the richness into the relationship. There's times we disagree. It doesn't mean that we're going to just can the relationship.

It means we have to work through it because we know that what we have is far better and far richer and far more edifying. And the church, if we can ever get to the point that we keep our focus on Christ and the kingdom and bringing up there, down here, making heaven on earth a reality through the way we live, that's what will lead to Christian unity. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.

And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radio at uss.salvationarmy.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.

Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake inviting you to join us next time for The Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-03 13:33:42 / 2024-02-03 13:39:23 / 6

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