At the beginning of August, Pastor Paul began a series called “The Antichrist Chronicles” with the screening of a rather shocking DVD on events in the world which seem to point to the fulfillment of prophecy and the near return of Jesus.
Perhaps the most shocking is that, in spite of all the efforts being made to blanket the globe with the gospel, (a stunning 98% of the world has the potential to hear the gospel), every form of evil is escalating: wars, persecution, famine, disease, crime, violence and Satanism. Why is that? Has the message of Jesus lost its power to affect people? Is it being rejected because the lives of God’s people are so little different from the people in the world that the church is no longer credible or relevant?
Why did the good news impact people in the first century so that in one generation it was claimed that the Christian church had “turned the world upside down”? And that was accomplished without the technology which makes the spread of the gospel that much easier today. Jesus said that there are two things that touch people’s hearts – the love of God’s people for one another – John 13:34,35 and oneness in the body of Christ – John 17:23.
What does this mean? To love one another means to meet each other’s needs at our own expense. That means that, if I have to choose between my needs and someone else’s, I choose to take care of them first before myself. But the problem is that we have the natural tendency to think of “me first”.
Unity means submitting ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). That’s an equally tougher requirement because our natural response is “my way”.
How did Jesus handle these issues? Everything He did was for others and in submission to the Father. Just before His arrest He prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one”. What does that mean? We see God’s glory in who He is – gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6). Jesus showed us what the Father is like so that we can feel safe being in submission to Him. He wants us to submit to one another to live out the unity we have with Him.
Now how can we love and be one with each other without prayer? Only as we live in God’s presence and power are these things possible.