Make much of one another in the year 2018

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Please turn to:

2 Corinthians chapter 5
Ephesians chapter 2.

Alright — so last week Saju talked about how we can “Make much of Christ in the year 2018” (Read) Isn’t that a great topic? Just think about this:

Can you imagine if our primary devotion this year was to Jesus? Where we wouldn’t settle for just a little bit of Him. But — He’s all we want, He’s all we need, and we don’t care how following Him affects our lifestyle. We just want to live our lives ABANDONED TO HIM.

Wouldn’t that be beautiful making much of Jesus in 2018? My task this morning is to talk about COMMUNITY, and my point is very simple: Just as we are called to make much of Jesus, we are also called to make much of one another.

That’s how God designed this to work: That our lives would be sustained by a growing intimacy with Jesus Christ as we ABIDE in Him. And, that would naturally flow through us to the people around us.

In fact, I want to begin by showing you how those 2 things are inseparably linked. That’s why I want to begin by looking at this passage in Ephesians chapter 2. Let’s read this together. (Ephesians chapter 2:12-22)

Understand what Paul is saying. We were, at one time, separated from Christ and, because of that, we were alienated from the commonwealth of the people of God. In other words, our relationship with God was fractured which meant that our relationships with one another were fractured. Those 2 always go together.

But all of that changed with the reconciling work of Jesus Christ. He has reconciled us to God by His blood. What that means is when you are in Christ, there is no longer alienation from God. There is fellowship with Him!

And, because of that, it has changed our relationship to one another. It has made us fellow citizens — members of the same household. Paul says in this text that God is literally building us up together into a spiritual dwelling place with Christ at the center.

When you add all of that up, you arrive at this: Because we have been reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ, reconciliation can now happen with one another.

In other words, as we make much of Christ in 2018, it will allow us to make much of one another in 2018. And, as we are making much of one another, it furthers are ability to make much of Jesus Christ (it’s symbiotic in that way).

Doesn’t that sound beautiful? Here’s the problem: when you look around, a lot of churches don’t operate that way. I can’t speak fully to the context here in Mumbai, although I would guess there are similarities to the American Church.

But in my context in America this is a stinging indictment against the church. There’s often more disunity within the walls of the church than there is outside of the church.

Where sadly, in some contexts, the church is becoming known more for it’s disunity than for its togetherness. And, if we’re going to understand why that is and how that can change, then we have to understand what’s causing disunity in the church.

Now, here’s what I want to do: I want to take a few minutes and talk a little bit about the problem that exists. And then, we’ll get to 2 Corinthians chapter 5 to discover how we can see this eradicated in the church.

Alright — let me start my making 2 statements that frame the discussion for us: 1) Unity is something that must be fought for in the church 2) Pride is the catalyst for disunity in the church.

Let me speak to each of these for a few moments.

Unity is something that must be fought for in the church.

The best way to illustrate this is by thinking of a marriage.

One of the things that I get to do as a pastor is marry young couples & handle their pre-marital counseling — (and sometimes their post-marital counseling). And one of the themes that I try to drive home with young couples who are about to enter into a marriage covenant is that a healthy, unified, Christ-exalting marriage takes A LOT of work.

And, if you’ve been married for a long time, you just “amened” that in your head because you know it’s true! And, if you haven’t been married for a long time, and you don’t yet know that, trust me: unity in a marriage doesn’t just happen, it’s something that you have to contend for.

The best marriages are the ones where the husband & wife are actively caring for & pursuing each other’s hearts as they pursue Jesus Christ. It’s just a fact.

And the exact same pattern is true as it relates to relationships within the church. If we want deeper community within our church, if we want to be defined by our unity & our oneness, then we must pursue Christ and, flowing from that, we must actively pursue unity with one another. We have to fight for it! We have to contend for it! WE HAVE TO SACRIFICE FOR IT!

“What are we supposed to sacrifice,” you ask. EVERYTHING!!! Just consider this again in terms of marriage. Think about what a marriage would like if the husband & wife interacted with each other the same way most Christians interact with their local church.

Because, a lot of Christians interact with their local church by asking these kinds of questions in their heart: “How do I benefit from this?” “How can my needs be met?” “Will this relationship cost me too much?” Questions like, “How can I be served?”

But, here’s my question: What would a marriage look like if both the husband & the wife related to each other that way? Just concerned with having their needs met. Just concerned with what they can get. I think we can agree that a marriage like that would look terrible and would be terribly disunified.

The question is, why would that be any different in the church? If we aren’t willing to sacrifice for each other, and fight for each other, and prefer one another as better than ourselves, why would we expect any sort of unity?

Church, WE MUST see unity as something to be fought for; as something to be contended for. That’s the first thing.

I don’t think I have to spend much time convincing you of the 2nd statement.

Pride is the catalyst for disunity in the church.

It’s PRIDE that drove a wedge between us and God when we tried to usurp His authority. It’s PRIDE that keeps people from God who believe that they know better and can fashion God in their own image. And it’s PRIDE that keeps us from loving one another because we tend to minimize our sin and focus on the sin of others.

Pride is a cancer that eats away at communion & fellowship. It erodes communion with God & it keeps us from experiencing true fellowship with one another.

I’ll put it simply: there is no place for PRIDE in the body of Christ! We must be reminded in our hearts that God OPPOSES THE PROUD, but GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE (Prov. 3:34 — — as quoted in James 4:6).

Pride impacts and infects everything, and it must be eradicated by the gospel over time. Where our pride gets replaced by new affections, and new delights, and new longings for God and for each other.

If that’s really going to happen, then we must begin to regard each other according to the spirit and not according to the flesh. So, what does it mean that “we must regard each other according to the spirit & not the flesh?”

Let me put it another way. We have a choice when we interact with each other: Are we going to see & respond to each other through the lens of each other’s flesh? Or, are we going to see & respond to each other through the lens of the gospel and God’s redemptive work in each other’s lives?

I’m telling you, this has everything to do with whether the church will be defined by it’s unity or it’s disunity. Whether or not it’s members are regarding each other according to the spirit or according to the flesh.

Just think about the effects of these 2 positions. When we are regarding each other according to the spirit, we are defining everything by grace and the covering that we all have in Christ. We are quick to remember who we are in Christ — (SAINTS) — and we are quick to remember that we’re all being sanctified right now progressively. That means we’re all in process, WHICH ALLOWS US TO ACTUALLY EXTEND GRACE TO EACH OTHER.

On the other hand, when we are regarding each other according to the flesh, we define everything in each other’s lives based on how we measure up to standards. We are quick to believe the lie that we are defined by how well we perform for each other. It makes us quick to judge and slow to forgive.

Regarding one another according to the spirit causes us to consider how we can walk with one another & bless one another. Regarding one another according to the flesh causes us to evaluate relationships based on how they benefit us.

Regarding one another according to the spirit causes us to seek to understand someone & extend grace to them. Regarding one another according to the flesh causes us to pre-determine that we’re right & then write the other person off in our heart. Church, I am convinced that this is what breeds disunity in the church.

I want you to turn 2 Corinthians chapter 5, where I had you mark your place. I want our hearts to hear what Paul has written to the Corinthian church on this point. Now, remember the context of the church in Corinth. It was a mess! All kinds of things were mis-firing in the church. And Paul is writing to them with a very corrective tone, but with a heart to build unity in the church & restore what had been fractured. Look at what he says starting in verse 14.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-19

So, what does Paul mean when he says that we no longer regard Christ according to the flesh? We all understand what he means by not regarding each other according to the flesh. But, how does this relate Jesus?

Well, let me just boil it down to this. We no longer regard Jesus according to the flesh because He has overcome Satan, sin and death. He has won! He is victorious!!!

That’s how we regard Christ: as the Lamb who was slain, BUT IS NOW STANDING, VICTORIOUS. And, through that victory Christ has made a way for us to be reconciled to God.

And, where we are reconciled to God, the old us goes away and the new us has come. And, the new us doesn’t see things according to the flesh anymore. The new us is controlled by the love of Christ. The new us seeks reconciliation at all times. The new us realizes that we don’t own anything; not even our own lives.

Church, the level of PRIDE that’s involved when we view ourselves according to the spirit but then view others according to the flesh, IS STAGGERING. That is not what Christ purchased for us. That is not what relationship with Him looks like. That will erode unity in the body of Christ.

Can I tell you what transformed my thinking on this? THE TRUTH that we have been bought by Jesus Christ, THEREFORE, we are no longer are own, THEREFORE, sacrificing for one another is nothing because we don’t own anything anymore.

Romans 14:7-8“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

Galatians 5:13-15 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

When we live like we’re owners, and not stewards, of God’s stuff pride & idolatry will dictate our lives. If my position is ever that fighting for unity & regarding one another according to the spirit is going to cost too much of:

My time, and my money, and my emotional energy, and my comfort, and my desires… Then I’m moving from the wrong position. There’s too much of the word, “MY” in all of that.

One comment

  1. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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