Be of the Same Mind with One Another

July 5, 2008 Romans 15:5

 

Gene Getz tells us that he loves to ski, and he learned something about the body of Christ while skiing one day.

“One of my favorite mountains in Colorado is Crested Butte. It was the end of a beautiful day! Mother Nature had dropped a foot of fresh snow the day before and the grooming crews had worked all night getting the slopes ready for the next day. And when the day dawned, the sun came up and shone all day long. The skiing conditions were perfect.

As I sat on the bus, reflecting on the great time I had that day, a man got on the bus carrying a young woman. She must have been in her early teens and I quickly concluded he must have been her father. My initial thoughts were that she had hurt herself. But the I noticed something else was wrong. As she sat in the seat next to the aisle, the man who had carried her onto the bus put his arm around her and held her upright. If he hadn’t, she would have fallen to the floor. I also noticed that she tried to talk and gesture with her arms but the word that came out wee garbled and her arms were difficult to control. I then saw she had a serious problem with coordination. There wasn’t anything wrong with her intelligence and she was definitely happy, though her smile contorted when she tried to share her excitement about the day.

Sadly, this woman represented those human tragedies where the brain sends signal to various parts of the body but they respond properly She was definitely physically challenged. People often use the word “spastic” to describe this condition, which in itself is not a complimentary word. It was obvious, however, that in spite of her handicaps, she had enjoyed the day, perhaps strapped in a sled.

As I sat and watched, I realized how fortunate I was to e coordinated. In fact, I’d skied all day long, making turns negotiating moguls, taking for granted that my legs and arms would respond properly to the signal from my brain.

But as I sat and reflected, I thought of another tragedy, in many aspects, a much greater tragedy. I thought of all the “spastic churches” that exist in the world today, churches where Jesus Christ the Head sends signals to various members of His body, but they do not respond properly. In fact, they do just the opposite of what the Lord has stated. Consequently, the church lacks unity and coordination. It’s filled with carnality and division. The church in Corinth was this kind of body of believers. Look at Paul’s evaluation.

1 Corinthians 3:3for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Christ’s Prayer For Unity

In Christ’s prayer to the Father recorded in John 17, He made direct reference to at least four major elements in the incomparable message of Christianity:

  1. Salvation  - John 17:1-3
  2. The Incarnation - John 17:4-6
  3. Sanctification- John 17:17-19
  4. Glorification- John 17:24

Central in this beautiful and profound prayer is one major request, that Christ’s disciples, along with Christians of all time, might experience unity and oneness.

“Holy Father,” prayed Jesus, “protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as We are one.” (John 17.11)

Later, Jesus amplified this request:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [believers of all time], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in 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).

The Essence of Christianity

  • Jesus Christ's primary concern for His church stands out boldly in this prayer.
  • It is a visible unity, a oneness, that reveals the very essence of the Christian Gospel.
  • Jesus was indeed God in the flesh.
  • He was (and is) one with the Father. And oneness in Christ's body in some miraculous and marvelous way reveals that Christ is indeed God.
  • lf He had not been God, there could have been no plan of salvation.
    • Christianity would be just another man-made religion.
      • This is why Satan's strategy throughout church history has been to destroy unity in Christ's body.
  • This makes a lot of sense from Satan's point of view.
    • If he can destroy unity, he has eliminated one of, if not the most powerful means to communicate that Jesus Christ is God.
      • When that message is obliterated or even blurred, people are doomed to eternal despair. No one can come to know God apart from coming to know Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

A Powerful Miracle

When Christ was on earth, He worked miracles to convince men He was God.

  • When He went back to heaven, He left His church to communicate that truth.
  • And the ingredient in the church that convinces non-Christians that Jesus is God is unity-being of "the same mind with one another."
  • This, too, represents a miracle, because people everywhere tend toward disunity.
  • History flows with lack of harmony among humankind.
  • Wars have been the norm-the standard for human behavior.
  • When non-Christians see true unity and true oneness, their hearts cry out to be a part of that kind of love.

An illustration from Getz to demonstrate the power of unity: Unknown to me, a young couple that was visiting for the first time did not believe that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. However, they sat and listened intently to me teach the Scriptures and also stayed for the second part of our service-a time of open sharing. I closed the service with a silent invitation-still not knowing they were there-giving everyone an opportunity to quietly invite the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives as Savior. I found out later they made that decision. But I also discovered something else. It was not my message per se that God used to bring them to faith in Christ. Rather, it was the second part of the service where the body of Christ functioned in love and unity. They shared later that they opened their hearts to the Gospel when they saw believers loving one another, honoring one another, and praying for each other’s needs. In short, they saw a functioning, loving body of believers. They saw a oneness in Christ. This was the "miracle" that the Holy Spirit used to open their hearts to the incarnational message I was teaching and preaching.:' This is what Jesus Christ prayed for and what the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer called "the final apologetic." Think for a moment what happened! This couple came into the service unbelievers-not only in the sense that they had not received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They did not even believe He was the "Word become flesh" (John I:14). However, a couple of' hours later they walked out ne\M believers. How easy it would be for me-and others-to conclude it was my message alone and the invitation to respond that brought them to Christ, when in reality it was an answer to Jesus' prayer-that we might "be brought to complete unity to let the world know" that God had sent Jesus Christ into this world because of His Love for all mankind (I7:23).

  • Over the years as I've had the privilege of leading people to Christ, I've seen this happen frequently it’s what I like to call "body evangelism.
  • When we're "of the same mind with one another," the Holy Spirit causes the message to come alive in the hearts of unbelievers. The Spirit of God uses the "whole church" in the salvation response.
  • This is what God intended to happen on a regular basis.

Satan’s Primary Strategy

Paul's prayer for one-mindedness and unity underscores and emphasizes why Satan's primary strategy throughout church history has been to destroy unity among Bible-believing Christians.

  • He wants to drive people away from Christ.
  • But this is also why Satan has tried to create a sense of unity among false religions-particularly those that deny the deity of Christ.

As I was discussing this great truth one day, I remember talking to a missionary to the Mormons.

He told me about a young man who had graduated from a well-known evangelical Bible institute with plans to go to the mission field under the auspices of a well known mission. However, after graduating and before he went to the mission field, he decided to visit a Mormon community. He wanted to see how they operated, how they did their mission work. He simply wanted to see what he could learn.

Surprisingly, after being exposed to Mormonism, this young man who professed to believe that Jesus Christ was God-decided to become a Mormon and to join a religious community that openly denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and was One with God. When he was asked why he converted to Mormonism, this young man replied quickly and to the point. He felt he had seen and sensed more love and unity in the Mormon church than he had ever seen in an evangelical Bible-believing church that taught that Jesus Christ was God and that the only way to heaven was lo accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

We can argue all we want that what he experienced was not true Christian love. However, in his words, he saw care and concern that ought to characterize true Christians. As Jesus said, sometimes the “people of this world" demonstrate more wisdom "than the people of the light"

Luke 16:8“And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

  • What an incredible twofold strategy.
    • Satan tries to destroy love and unity in churches that truly believe in the deity of Jesus Christ.(so that they deny the deity of Christ)
    • On the other hand, he attempts to simulate love and unity in churches and groups that deny the deity of Christ.
  • What better way to drivepeople away from the Gospel.
  • The world is repulsedby disunityamong those people who have the truth.
  • On other hand, they are attracted to groups that simulateunitybut who do not believe the truth.

Satan Can be Defeated

Fortunately, God gave us a strategy for defeating Satan. We can be "of the same mind with one another" and see the results. Look at the following powerful illustration to see what can happen when we practice this "one another" exhortation.

A Primitive Setting

Getz offers another powerful illustration;  On one occasion, I had an opportunity to minister to a group of missionaries in Quito, Ecuador. They had gathered for their annual conference for spiritual refreshment and encouragement.

Prior to the beginning of the conference. I spoke with one of the veteran couples who had ministered in that area of the world for many years, particularly to a large Ecuadorian Indian tribe. Without knowing the subject I was going to speak on, they shared with me that, at a particular point in time in their ministry, they experienced an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Literally thousands of these Indians responded to the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

I was naturally intrigued with their encouraging story and I asked them if there was any particular thing they could point to that may have precipitated this unusual spiritual response. They both thought about that question for a moment-and then the wife responded by saying, "Yes! There was something very significant that happened! And once that happened," she continued, "it was then that we saw this unusual response to the Gospel message."

  • You see, this couple had been part of a preaching team for many years that had ministered to this large South American Indian tribe.
  • However, for a lengthy period of time, there had been disunity in the rather large group of missionaries working among this tribe.
  • And then God's Holy Spirit did a special work of grace in the hearts of these missionaries.
  • They confessed their faults to one another and asked forgiveness.
  • Unity was restored, and the love among these people was very strong and obvious to the people to whom they had been ministering.
  • Consequently, the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of the Indians who had been resistant to the Gospel.
  • Literally thousands put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
  • You see, this was an answer to Jesus' prayer (John 17:20-23) and an illustration of what Paul (Romans 15:5) had in mind with his "one another" exhortation to be "of the same mind with one another."

For Discussion

I. Do you agree that Satan's primary strategy involves destroying unity among Christians? Why would that be so effective? What examples have you seen of disunity within the church? What examples have you seen of Christians overcoming disunity?

2. Read John 17:20-25.If you had been one of the disciples who heard Jesus pray this prayer, how would you have reacted? What does it mean to you to know that Jesus prayed this prayer for you and the church of today?

3. Read Acts 2:42-47. What evidences of unity in the early church would you have found most compelling if you were an unbeliever in that day? What evidences of unity do you see in your local church today?

4. How has God answered Jesus' request recorded in John 17:23? How has God used this Biblical principle at Faith Baptist to draw so many to Christ.

5. In what areas does our church need to make a greater effort in demonstrating unity? Write them down. In which of these areas can you personally make a difference? How?