Prayer Meeting, October 28, 2011
At Hylton Memorial Chapel, Woodbridge, VA. 5:00 pm
|Jesus Cried Out For Unity Inside the Church|
Father, "I Pray That They May Be One As We Are One"
We are presently a church so divided. We have turned the gospel message of Christ upside down while seeking for our own glory. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus saw this present division in the church. In his final prayer before he went to the cross, he started to pray for the church. St. John captured this intimate and historic moment of Jesus with God. Apostle John described the prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in John chapter 17.
In that prayer, Jesus agony in the spirit had already started. He was giving his final account of his mission on earth to God. His journey back home has already started. Then he continued his prayer and said,
"Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are one" (St. John 17:11).
Every statement Jesus made in the chapter is critically very important. Yet, he repeated one statement over and over because he was able to see a divided church ages ago. Despite, many of us insisted on keeping it divided. Interestingly, Jesus started this verse by saying, "Now, I am no longer in the world." This sounds like a confusing statement because Jesus was still with his disciples and had not died yet. However, when death is eminent, the silver cord that attaches the soul to the body starts to pull away from the physical body. Even though the person is still alive, the continuous pulling of this cord starts to give out death vibrations. Meaning, the process of death has already started and the human spirit has started his permanent journey out of the body. This was what Jesus was referring to when he said he was no longer in the world. His soul has already started the final journey out of the physical world. Today, many people will make statements predicting their own death. They are not actually predicting their own death. They are speaking from their perception in the spirit of death vibrations as the process of permanent spiritual ascension begins.
The critical point is Jesus wanted his followers to be one. His disciples were already gone out of this world ages ago. This statement, "That they may be one as we are one," is presently referring to the body of believers. But, we are a body so divided.
Jesus continued his prayer. The second and third times, he repeated his request before God again.
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that you sent me" (St. John 17:20-21).
The emotional agony of Jesus that expressed itself in this prayer was due to those whom he loved, but rejected him. Jesus was praying for another group of believers, who would come to faith by just confessing him as Lord. Again, Jesus prayed to God that they would be one. He went further by requesting that these believers would not only be one as a body, but that they would unite with him and the Father in the Spirit as one.
In the fourth time, Jesus repeated the statement again in the same prayer.
"And the glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one" (St. John 17:22).
Jesus was telling God the Father that he had given the glory that God gave to him to his disciples, so they could be one. Jesus gave his glory to us for the sake of unity in the body. How painful we trash that glory today because of a divided church? Im sure Jesus is not rejoicing over the divisions in the church today
The fifth time Jesus repeated the same statement while he was still praying to God.
"I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me" (St. John 17:23).
If Jesus was in agonizing pain and praying over and over the same thing about unity in the church, how concerned should we be over the issue? Jesus told his disciples that if they love one another, that was how people would know they were his disciples. How can we tell who is the true disciples today when the church is so divided? One sin God hates is the sin of disobedience. It got both Adam and Eve in trouble. This was the sin that got Moses in trouble. The same sin got Peter in trouble when he went fishing after Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father. However, Jesus had a gentle way to confront Peter about his disobedience by asking him a question. "Peter, do you love me more than these?" Jesus was asking Peter that between fishing and serving him which one was more important? There are some preachers who teach the Bible like a college professor. They know the facts, but the words have no place is their hearts. They do not know how to walk, or refuse to walk the Word. This is another reason why we do not have unity in the body of Christ. Talk is cheap!
Unity in the body of Christ is a critical issue. We have been fragmented not so much for gospel differences as we claim. I used to believe that gospel disagreements are the keys for the divisions in the church. That is a fallacy! Gospel disagreement is the excuse we use to create division, just like we use ethnicity, race or color to hate. I have never seen a husband and wife who agreed on all issues. Yet they love each other and stayed till death pull them apart. The critical reasons for church division are due to the negative spirits of territorialism, egocentrism, social elitism, separatism, and isolationism.
Territorialism is about ownership. Some preachers believe that the church is their personal property. Sadly in some bitter divorces, the church was dragged into the settlement as if the house of God was one persons property. Some preachers resented the idea of unity with other bodies of Christ, because territorialism massages their egos. They are not working for Christ, they are trying to protect their money making machine. They never want to help anybody outside the church congregation. Their church is only meant for the members.
Egocentrism is one of the biggest blunders openly expressed in big ministries today. Some people suffer from the "little you and Bigger me" syndrome. They are always bragging about how many radio or television stations across the world carrying their programs. If counting the radio and television stations teaching the Word of God is so pleasant with God, why did he killed 70,000 Israelites when David did a census? "And Davids heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done" (II Samuel 24:10).
The issue was not so much of the census David did in Israel, but the implications of the census. God works in numbers. But, on this occasion, David was evaluating his own power of conquest. That was what made God angry. Israels military power was not that of David, but that of God who led them to battle. So, when we start counting how many radio and television stations carrying our ministry messages, we are bragging about our own achievements. Whose achievements are we bragging about? You can hear something like this for self-adulation. "Look at me, Im on five million radio and television stations on earth, Jupiter, Mars, I bet the aliens are tuning to my messages from other planets." Who are you kidding? If counting your baskets of gold is supposed to make you happy, why did the German billionaire, Adolf Merckle commit suicide at the age of 74 years? He was number 94 on Forbes list of the richest persons in the world. After losing some millions in the international market, he threw himself in front of a train to end his own life. He was said to have been depressed over the money he lost. If the riches of this world bring eternal joy, why did Solomon, the richest king that ever lived suffered from depression while away from the presence of Gods Spirit?
Social elitism is a disease of the secular world. Now, it has found its ugly entrance into the body of Christ. I remember going to a church with my wife and kids to see a preacher that used to be in our church. I did not remember anybody saying anything to us. We were treated like aliens from the outer space. But, we want to claim to be Christians. They acted as though they did not want us in their church. People do not want to talk to you if you are not a celebrity like them. You could have called them in pain, hurting very badly. They could careless. As far as they are concerned, you are a nonentity. Let a cat (an animal) from the office of their fellow celebrity preacher gets on the phone. They waste no time getting on the phone as if they just received a call from Jesus. You could have tried a lifetime trying to reach them. To the elite, your life is not worth anything to them. Elitism arrogance is chasing many people away from the church. There are many Christians today who refuse to go to church. Some celebrity preachers enjoy the status of their position on radio and television, more than they care to preach the gospel message to the lost. This is part of the tragedy of a celebrity image. The same pride that keeps them away from people, is the same pride that leads some to crash into depression in silence. The price some celebrities have paid for separatism and isolationism has cost some their lives.
Separatism is a disease of pride, arrogance and insecurity. I was told of a pastor who refused to go on vacation for many years because he was afraid another preacher would come and steal his members. He therefore preferred to separate his members from other churches. I wondered if the preacher ever read the gospel message of Jesus about the sheep only follow the shepherd they know. When you separate yourself from people because you think you are better, or afraid of other shepherds, that separation eventually leads to an isolation. No man is an island. Even the best of us like Bishop TD Jakes said, has a breaking point. In this chapter 17 of the book of John, Jesus was not only talking about unity in the body of Christ, he was also talking about unity in the Spirit of the Holiness of God. Separation from people is not as bad as a separation from the Spirit of God, which quickly leads to a disaster. Separation from the Spirit of God is not because God was lost. The prodigal son was the one that got lost. The father has always been in the same place he left him. When we open the door to have an intimate relationship with sin, we walk away from the Lord. The door opens up for the enemy to come inside and do the final destruction. Whose fault is it? The person who left the door open, or the devil that walked through the unguarded door of human soul?
I remember when we were in primary school. This young guy was so brilliant in Arithmetic; our teacher brought him to our class to show him off, even though he was in a lower age class to us. We were amazed at this young mans brilliance. The young man went to high school and proceeded to college where he earned an MD degree. Life was wonderful with money and his popularity was obvious. He came from a Christian home. His fame walked him away from the Lord. People of shady characters surrounded him. He was not only alone from the people of God; he was away from the Spirit of God. His shady friends led him in a wrong direction with drugs. He made the wrong turn in life, and he instantly perished. All his life achievements died with him. People who dare to walk away from God, will walk straight into the hands of the devil.
Isolationism is a recipe for a disaster in any ministry. Once a ministry is isolated from people, the leader chooses to do whatsoever he wants to do unchallenged. Such a group is very dangerous. Either the preacher wants to start violating the general rules of conventional ministry under God, or he wants to start a cult. Anybody who belongs to a group where you are not allowed to interact with family members or friends, or question the leader, question whether you have entered a cult. You cannot allow anybody to take away your right to choose from you. Even God did not take away our rights to choose.
There is no doubt that many preachers suffer alone. If you are suffering from ministry burnout, you need a vacation and some rest. If depression visits your soul, get into the Word of God and vigorously pursue the presence of God. You can never find depression in the presence of God, because God will comfort your soul. In the ministry, do not walk alone. Reach out to somebody. Walk with somebody, and better still, walk with the Lord. In my journey, I walked many journeys by myself, but I was never alone. The Lord walked me through many journeys. He never left me alone. I continued to have conversations with him. One time I got angry and disagreed with the Lord. I said some bad things, not cursing. The following day Jesus came back and gave me some soothing words to comfort me. Jesus said in a soothing voice, "You are still in training." I was so glad when he said that. I had thought he was going to walk away from me. I remember the day Jesus appeared and said to me, "Im going to be in charge of your spiritual training." Other times he would send somebody to offer me some kind words.
Once I mature in the Spirit, he started using some other ways to communicate with me about his displeasure with me when I have done something wrong. One time I did something wrong. This will be very mild compared to some people. I saw a picture I did not have no business in seeing. Immediately, Jesus was very offended. I did not realize it then. I went to sleep and he dropped a parable dream in the sleep. Jesus does this from time to time with me. That particular night, I had a dream standing over and watching a clean following water from a tap through to the sewer. When I looked at the pathway, it was smeared from the beginning to the end with human waste. In that dream, I felt so offended by what I saw. Either I turned on the water, or somebody did. While standing and watching the water flowing through the pathway, the water started and gradually washed away the human waste. Gradually all the human wastes were washed away. That was Jesus parable to me. I bet the Lord is still telling parables. When we sin, we do not realize with rub the face of the Lord in the sewer. So, Jesus wanted me to know how he felt. Seeing the picture was not the problem as much as my lustful reactions to the picture that offended the Lord. A lustful reaction or an illicit excitement is like having intimacy with a prostitute in your bedroom while the Lord is sitting in your living room. I spent many days apologizing to the Lord because around that time he was getting ready to send me on a mission. The incident also prepared me to develop a spirit of preparedness to fight distractions or the enemy. I believe the Lord used the incident to reveal the lustful conditions of my heart before taking me on this journey because there could me many distractions along the pathway. With the Word of God, and with the water from the bosom of God, the Lord helped to wash my pathway with clean water from Heaven. I have never known anytime the Lord sent me on a journey without preparing me. Sometimes, you can be away from people to have an intimate moment with the Lord. No matter how difficult the journey, never walk away from God!
Jesus said, "I command you to love one another, by this all men will know that you are my disciples" (St. John 13:34-35).
Sometimes instead of loving the body of Christ, we magnify and fall in love with the messenger, and ignore the message. John the Baptist was very unique when he asked the people not to give him any credits, but to reserve all for Jesus. John declared himself as a forerunner of a Messiah; he could not untie his shoelace. How humble? Compare that to today where the celebrity race is always about social recognition in the media for popularity. Which celebrity has a bigger house? Who is more attractive? Who goes home with the biggest paycheck? Regardless to all these madness, God chooses ordinary people for extraordinary miracles.
I was so surprised to see how divided we are as Christians after I have been organizing the prayer meeting for Washington, DC for the past nine months. It breaks my heart to experience how Christians are so separated from other Christians due to human imposed disagreements. Yet, Jesus cried out his heart while on earth that he wanted us to be one in us, and one in him.
Jesus said, "He who does not gather with me scatters abroad" (St. Matthew 12:30).
There are many people in the ministry who are very committed in the Spirit to serve the Lord. There are also others using Jesus to make money and fame for themselves. They do not care about the ministry. They only cared about how much they could get rich using Jesus. Truly, I feel sorry for those people. I know this is a bitter coffee for some people. All of us in the ministry at one time or the other have been guilty of self-adulation, including me.
One day the real true soldiers of Christ will take their place among the saints, and find a resting place in the heart of the Father. They will be measured not by the size of their wealth, but how well they were faithfully committed to serving the Lord in unison with the Spirit of God.
Do not allow anything to stop you from joining hands with the people of God to pray for the nation. No mountain is bigger than God and no person is beyond salvation. Bring those people who do not know Christ to a prayer meeting. The Lord will bless you for it, because God uses ordinary people for extraordinary miracles! Do not worry about those who have rejected you, or look down to you, or walk away from you. They may not be those planted on your way to accomplish Gods purpose. Use whatever you have in your hand to praise God!
Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus