By Dave Baldwin, Outreach Pastor
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me." - John 17:20-23
One of the big sermon series last year at Crossroads was “The 9” which talked about the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5. It is always good to have a reminder of what it looks like when we are connected to God and producing good fruit in our lives. Paul even says that there is no law against these things. The fruit of the Spirit cultivates unity in body of Christ. But what does it look like, when we don’t live life according to the fruit of the spirit? Earlier in Galatians 5 Paul talks about the desires of our sinful nature. Most of us breeze through those pretty quickly and typically think something like this, “well I am faithful to my spouse, I don’t practice sorcery, I’m not really THAT selfish, no wild drunken parties, check, whew, I think I’m ok.” But tucked away in that list of sinful desires are two sins that prevent breakthrough in communities all throughout the world, dissension and division.
Lack of unity in the church is the single biggest obstacle to seeing God move in a big way in our community. Disunity is one of Satan’s most effective weapons against the church. Satan divides and conquers. If the church fights against itself, regardless of the reason, goes directly against God’s heart for His people. The sad part is that regardless of theological differences between churches in the community, we should all have the same marching orders from God. Number one, love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves. And number two, go tell other people and make disciples. But when was the last time that you saw all of the churches in Fredericksburg or any other community working together to make sure that everyone is transformed through a saving relationship with God?
The power of unity is interwoven throughout the Bible. In Genesis, the Holy Spirit was together with God in creation. John Chapter 1 adds that Jesus was the spoken Word of God and was with God from the beginning of creation. There are many correlations throughout the Bible that compare the unity of a husband and wife becoming one with the Jesus being the bridegroom and the church being the bride. Ultimately, Jesus prayed fervently to God shortly before he was arrested and crucified for unity among believers. “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:23)
And that is the formula for seeing God move the hearts of men. Jesus’ prayer shows us that unity isn’t optional. Unity is a direct testimony to the world about God’s love. That should be a sober wake-up call to every church in every tribe and nation. Because if unity makes the world know that God sent Jesus and that God loves everyone, then division and dissension in the church sends the opposite message. God forgive us for our hard hearts that we don’t do a better job at being unified!
Seeing God breakthrough in Fredericksburg and the entire region in 2014 is not impossible, but it won’t come without a cost. You are already on the right track through fasting and praying these 21 days, but that is only the beginning. Seeing breakthrough will only come from continuing to pray without ceasing, leaving our egos at the door, putting our disagreements aside and not being satisfied until every single soul in the community knows their Creator.
As you pray today, ask God these questions: