United as ONE

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(SI)— What does it mean to be united as a nation, as americans, as a people?
One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all...
Pledge of Allegiance was ”written in 1885 by Captain George Thatcher Balch, a Union Army officer in the Civil War who later became auditor of the New York Board of Education and authored a book on how to teach patriotism to children in public schools” (Wikipedia).
“We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!”
Being united as ONE nation, we celebrate independence—Freedom
Being united as ONE, the apostle Paul has something else in mind—Uniting Jew and Gentile; two people into one—Unity in the body of Christ found in the resurrection of Jesus
Ephesians 1:22-23 “God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
SERIES—The church Together as ONE—United as ONE—In the body of Christ
Body of Christ Literally refers to Christ’s physical body; figuratively refers to the community of Christian believers. 4
In the Gospel of John, we are given Jesus’s vision for the church
John 10:16 “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”
How do we do stay as ONE in a world that is anything but? What does it mean to be UNITED as ONE? How is the ONENESS of God revealed in the UNITY of the body of Christ?
Three ways believers found unity as the body of Christ
1. Belief of who Jesus was, and what he did
2. Oneness found in God’s family
3. Calling to the world as the church
The churches one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord, anything less is a foundation of sand...
John 22-23 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me”
The church united as ONE— Pray
(S3) — Raft of floating fire ants
Surfing Fire Ants They have a stunning way to survive huge rains that flood their colonies -- common occurrences in the American South or their native Brazil. They'll link together and assemble into flat waterproof disc-shaped rafts that float atop the flood waters, due to their interlocking pattern.
Some ants in the raft even remain submerged below the water's surface, but the structure of their interconnection traps air bubbles between them that these ants use to breath. On top of the raft, other ants surf along until the colony washes up onto dry ground. Linked together as ONE, the ant raft can float for up to two months!
How do body surfing ants speak to the body we call the church?
The apostle Paul helps us with that, laying the foundation of unity by uniting both Jew and Gentiles, into one body, the church.
Paul characterizes this the unity as “one new people”
Ephesians 2:15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.”
Finding unity through the mutual experience of Christ’s empowering love
Ephesians 3:16-17 “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
He goes on to demonstrates how this is accomplished by God’s power through the ministry of gifted people given by Christ to the church so that the body might grow into spiritual maturity. 3
Five understandings of what it means to be united as one church—Body of Christ

I. Being united as ONE... is not natural, its SPIRITUAL

3 Make every effort to keep yourselves UNITED in the Spirit.
To be united as ONE, takes human effort...that is always guided by the Holy Spirit
Church unity is the spiritual union of the redeemed through the indwelling of the Spirit, which manifests in the visible gathering of the faithful.
The church and its members, In-tuned with the spirit of God are like a finely tuned orchestra or well blended choir
“This is the work of the Holy Spirit in connection with the unified body of Christ.” (1)
Jesus’s human effort—Always guided by the spiritual oneness with his father. Creating a spiritual oneness with God.
The adductor muscles (groin ) — Draw one part of the body towards another. If you squeeze your legs together, you’ll feel the muscles of your inner thigh activating
Jesus was always drawing towards the cross, his death and resurrection, and to his father in heaven—A oneness he never sacrificed in his humanness.
“It requires human diligence to maintain it, but the Spirit creates it.” 2 Maxie D. Dunnam
Unity of the church is not natural, it takes human effort guided by the Holy spirit

II. Being united as ONE...is not being worldly oriented, but ETERNALLY minded

4 “There is one body and ONE spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.”
The apostle saw the promise of a glorious future when he met Jesus in a not so glorious moment
Acts 9:4 “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting
Paul's maturing moment or proverbial 2X4 across the head—he was blinded, sent away to Ananias and told what to do next
His encounter with Jesus changed his worldly orientation to that of being eternally minded. This gave him greater hope that was based on God’s eternal love—A vision that would spread the good news...
When I was a kid I lived for the day…but as I grew (matured), I became more future oriented
Isn’t that true as we age as well?
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart...
Being united as ONE means being ETERNALLY minded and the healing that comes with this can be glorious
Philippians 3:21 “He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own
Our vision work as a leadership board—The churched and the unchurched feel welcome, and those who have been away from church feel at home.”
“To be a place where…those who desire to know God and Jesus can experience healing and wholeness.”
Being united as one is being ETERNALLY minded

III. Being united as ONE…is not found in independence, but in the shared ONENESS of God

“5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
In these two verses we see the working together of One Lord (Jesus)—One FAITH (believer)—One baptism (family)—One God who is over and in all (complete body). This oneness is a shared fellowship (union), between one who has FAITH...and the one who we have faith in.
There is certainly freedom found in independence…but for the church, freedom is found in the ONENESS of God actively working in the believer
We observe as we witness the workings of God within the fellowship in the expression of the oneness of God. Ephesians: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (2. Celebrate Your Unity 4:2–6
Unity is a shared experience that benefits the whole body...
The unity of the church cannot be empirically observed except by sharing empathically in the life of proclaimed word, the enacted sacrament, and the lived-out discipline.11 Thomas C. Oden, Life in the Spirit: Systematic Theology, Vol. III (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 303.
Unity in the body of Christ where anyone can find healing and wholeness in ONE faith, in belonging to ONE family—the ONENESS of God

IV. Being united as ONE...is not found in uniformity, but in a DIVERSITY that builds up the church

“7 God has given each one of us (church) a special gift through the generosity of Christ.” 11 some to be apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
Revelation—we are not all alike—We are diverse in our talents, passions, our spiritual giftedness, and our witness of Christ. This makes us unique and more effective as the body of Christ.
Romans 12:4-6 “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.
This kind of unity does not tear down, it BUILDS up! The uniqueness of each person in the body adds to the whole, for the benefit of those who WILL come to believe.
Every ant in a colony has a purpose—queen—worker ants—males
Jesus’ calling of the disciples, who were all unique in their personalities...where they came from…how they interacted with Jesus...how they did ministry...
(S10) —All together different we are more than the sum of our parts
The church’s that Paul started were the same. They had their differences, and there uniqueness as people. Their diversity would hold them together—building up the body of Christ
Unity is found in our diversity, which has proven to build up the church

V. Unity does not spawn insecurity, it generates STABILITY

“13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”
Immaturity breeds insecurity—Being United as ONE generates a stable environment bound in the truth of God’ s word. The church then won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching, that alters or distorts the truth
“The key to these rafts is the strength or stability of their interconnection. The whole raft is held together as the ants clutch to one another with jaws and claws. Scientists have determined that the ant's grip force is on par with that of a human being able to suspend six elephants off the ground -- or on par with the clutch strength you have if someone tries to take away your coffee before 8 a.m.”
The ant raft is the church. It's the surfing body which hangs together, generating stability that carries it in the midts of a flood of cultural confusion, linking the whole of the body to the truth
Stability in the church comes through our own maturing in the Lord — growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus. As each of you grow deeper in love with the word of God, the church becomes more stable as one.
Schools/education institutions/lack the stability they once had
To train children in the skills necessary for their survival— reading, writing, math, and science.
To socialize children and teach them how to behave in society.
To prepare them for their future roles in life as adults.
To give them the opportunity to learn about their history and the world around them.
To provide a safe and structured environment for children to grow and learn in.
Just as our education institutions have gotten off course, it is easy as a church to get drawn off course by the Issue(s) of day…this creates insecurity and instability and confusion
Churches ONE foundation….
This stability is found in
The authority of all of scripture...
Our orthodoxy/historical christian beliefs...
Our Wesleyan heritage of sanctification
“15 the church as ONE we will speak the TRUTH in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Jesus as ONE Lord, ONE with God, and the church UNITED as ONE
(S12) Being united as ONE...
— is not natural its SPIRITUAL
— is not being worldly oriented, but ETERNALLY minded
— is not found in independence, but in the shared ONENESS of God
— is not found in uniformity, but in a DIVERSITY that builds up the church
— does not spawn insecurity, it generates STABILITY
United as ONE ...to reach the fullness of Christ as the church
1. Belief in who Jesus is
2. Our place in the family of God
3. Our calling in the world...
ONE nation under ONE God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all...
1 James Smith and Robert Lee, Handfuls on Purpose for Christian Workers and Bible Students, Series I–XIII, five-volume edition., vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), 255.
2 Maxie D. Dunnam and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon, vol. 31, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982), 196.
3 Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians & Philemon (Commentary)
4 Yongbom Lee, “Body of Christ,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
5 Ant Raft, or Body-surfing Re-imagined | Homiletics Online
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