United by Perspective

John 17:1-10

Where would we be in science without the microscope? We’d know nothing about cells and structure and how the body works. We’d know so little about biology or botany. What would we know about DNA and curing diseases. But where would science be without the telescope? How would we know about our solar system and planets? We’d know nothing about stars or planets or the make-up of our universe. We’d have been unable to explore the moon or our own galaxy.

So which one is more important? Well, I suppose it matters based more on whose shoes you walk in. Like so much of life it has to do with perspective. I don’t think you can put a value on either one – both have brought advances to our knowledge of the world and universe we live in. I sincerely doubt the science community doubts that both have been necessary.

There was a group of pastors gathered for lunch one day (not OUR group of pastors! ;). They were of different denominations and began to talk about those difference. The conversation grew more heated as the meal went on. The waitress, having listened to the ongoing discussion, finally took out a pen and began drawing on a napkin. As she was finishing, one of the pastors called her over and asked for extra napkins. She laid a stack on the table along with the one she drew on. One pastor picked up the napkin of the waitress. As he read it, he paused and passed it on the pastor next to him until all read it and with that – the debate ended. On the napkin was a circle and in the center was a dot that said “Jesus.” Around the line were written the names of different denominations of Christians. Underneath were written the words, "The nearer to the center the nearer to one another."

In this prayer the word GLORIFY is used 8 times. That ought to tell us something – it is important. Ultimately, bringing God glory means that we do something that directs someone’s attention to something great about God. The closer we move toward the center, toward Jesus, the more we begin to become the ongoing answer to Jesus prayer and life – for God to get the attention.

When we look at Jesus’ prayer, the first 5 verses reflect that Jesus isn’t praying a personal prayer but that his desire is for God to get the attention. In verses 6-10: Jesus is providing a guideline and idea for how we are to pray and live – namely that our lives and prayers should show obedience to God – just like he did
• He revealed God to us.
• He gave us the words God gave him.
• He taught us to obey God’s word.
• He showed us that God was the source of all he has.
• He helped us understand and believe that God sent him.

Ultimately, He was obedient and went to the cross for us.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

Having faith has more to do with being Obedient than it does with Bible trivia. Do you, like Jesus, pray for God’s blessings so you might serve God better? That God will get the credit? Do you act in such a way that your first priority is giving to God with your treasures? Do you see Church as the building or as the people?

Many people turn denominational adjectives into nouns. Instead of saying, I am a Baptist Christian, a Presbyterian Christian, a Catholic Christian, or an Orthodox Christian, they say, I am a Baptist; I am a Presbyterian; I am a Catholic; I am Orthodox, and so on. This is a distortion of values, for being a Christian is the important thing, and what kind of Christian you call yourself is purely secondary if it really counts at all. That is what this series is all about: It isn’t about us – It’s about God.

We’re a United Methodist Church – we do things a little different from Cedarcrest Church or West Ridge Church but then we do things a little different from Acworth UMC and Due West UMC too. Are we going to use a microscope to analyze the differences or discover the similarities? Will we use a telescope to see how far apart we are or discover all the ways we do just what Jesus desires? Will we move together – toward Jesus so God will be glorified? Will we hold together and celebrate “…. the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 Jn 5:14)”?

Together, on August 1st churches came together to Engage Atlanta – It was more than symbols of our unity but it was faith in action. In the same way, it is this same inspiration – the same spirit of God that brought together a vision to support kids and their families.

My prayer, is at the end of your life, you should be able to say “I did what God gave me to do.”

So, may I ask you to consider this question: Is your life pointing others to the greatness of God or are there areas of your life that are hiding the glory of God for others?

To become the United Church that God desires means that we see with the eyes of God for those Jesus doesn’t desire to leave behind.

(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 - I'm thankful to journey with some great people!)


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