United By God's Plan

John 17:17-23

There are wonders that abound in our world. Always have been. We don’t always expect where they’ll come from either. Take George Foreman for instance. At one time, he was on par with Mohammed Ali, that was until they stepped into the ring together. While boxing made him famous, George Foreman’s one thing wasn’t boxing – nope he gave to world a grill. You might say it took losing the one thing he thought he had to find the one thing he was intended to give.

Grizzled cowboy Curly Washburn turned to City Slicker Mitch Robbins and asks: “Do you know what the secret of life is?” Then he lifts his finger and says, “This.” Mitch says, “Your finger?” Curly responds, “One thing. Just one thing. [and something else not repeatable]. Mitch asks, “But what is the "one thing?" “That's what you have to find out,” said Curly.

Coming out his prayer, Jesus brings clear there is one thing and you don’t have to find it out, it is already known. We can work our way from Genesis to Revelation and find there is one thing that is at the heart of all God has been about. It is phrased in different ways. It is acted out in different places and times.

God’s one thing for His people is to influence the world so the world may believe in Jesus. In verses 20-21, Jesus prays for our unity SO THAT “the world may believe” that Jesus is God’s Son. Again, in verse 23, Jesus prays for our unity “to let the world know” that Jesus is God’s Son and that God loves them.

These verses pose 2 questions to us. First, WHAT IS GOD’S BIG PLAN FOR US?
It isn’t something God is hiding from us. That is one thing that amazes me over and over again in our world. God’s plan for His people is that they GROW IN UNITY and, REACH THE WORLD FOR JESUS.

"My prayer is … that all of them may be one … SO THAT the world may believe that you have sent me. … May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:20-23 (NIV)

The second follows from the first, namely HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE IN HIS PLAN?
There are so many words we use in the church that most people don’t use in every day life. (I’ve got a sermon in the works for next month on that so stay tuned!) Sanctification is one of the words. At it’s simplest, it is when something is used for its INTENDED PURPOSE. How are we sanctified? We let God USE US for His purposes.

To be used by God means we have to TRUST IN JESUS’ WORK ON THE CROSS. The philosopher Cicero said, “Trust no one unless you have eaten much salt with him.”
Jesus’ sacrifice made it possible for us to know God. Do you get that? God wants to hang out with us! You wonder why Jesus ate and went to parties? Is there a reason at Crossroads we put a priority on communion as a time for friends to gather at the table? God wants us to know him – He wants us to trust him. God wants us to fulfill our purpose.

To do that, we’ve got to FOLLOW GOD’S WORD. Jesus says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 (NIV) Following God’s Word will keep us on track to be used by God. So, as often as you can, whenever you can – you have to make time to read the Bible. We’ve made time for TV, then video games, then cell phones and e-mail. God’s word is what will be THE guide IF you want to be where God wants you to be.

Ultimately, God desires us to pass on what we have learned. We are to SHARE THE MESSAGE ABOUT JESUS. Do you get this amazing point? Before you knew Jesus existed and lived on the planet 2,000 years ago – He PRAYED FOR YOU: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” John 17:20b (NIV)

Somebody answered that prayer. Okay, a lot of somebodies answered that prayer. We are called to be that answer to prayer. Bringing people to Jesus is the primary way we are used by God.

In the story of Lord of the Rings, one of elf leaders named Elrond doubted that humankind could rise up in the face of the great evil, Sauron. But Jesus was no mere fantasy, He was God’s Son, this prayer he prays points that He NEVER lost faith in God or his confidence in humanity to follow God’s plan.

One man came out of his house on his way to church on Sunday morning, just as his neighbor came out of his with his golf clubs. The golfer said, "Henry, come play golf with me today." Henry, with an expression of horror on his face, replied, "This is the Lord's day, and I go to church. Certainly I would not play golf with you." After a moment's silence, the golfer quietly said, "You know, Henry, I have often wondered about your church, and I have admired your fidelity. You know also that this is the seventh time I have invited you to play golf with me, and you have never invited me to go to church with you."

Jesus prayed for those who do not believe. How about you?
1. 2 people you know who aren’t going to church/do not believe.
2. Begin praying for them following Jesus pattern:
“God, may I be like Jesus in my life so __________ will believe in you.”
3. What helps you be like Jesus? DO THAT!
4. Hang out with them. Listen. Laugh. Live.
5. Don’t be silent.
Look for or make opportunities to invite to church/tell your story.

We become an answer to Jesus’ prayer and become more united when His followers FOLLOW GOD’S PLAN.

(This is the rough draft of the sermon preached. It reflects a collaboration of ideas from other pastors in the 15 churches taking part in this series so not all thoughts and phrases are original to me - I continue to be thankful to journey with some great people and look forward to our last week in the series!)


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