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Unity for the Gospel's Sake

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Sermon Notes:

Exegetical Idea: Paul is telling the Philippian Christians that if they have received any encouragement in Christ, love from Christ, fellowship in the Spirit, compassion or mercy, then they will be able give Paul more joy, by being of the same mind, same love and same spirit, and to be humble toward one another.
Homiletical Idea: A relationship with Jesus Christ and having the ability to look beyond ourselves can produce unity, so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus.
Pithy Statement: We need to seek unity so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Audience: Dail Church, Friday Night Worship Service, Feb. 25, 2005

Sermon Outline

I. Introduction
A. It seems that in all parts of the world, there are social barriers of some kind.
B. However, the church should be different. The church should be able to succeed in having unity among race, culture, and gender. I really do believe it’s actually possible. However there are two vital ingredients in order that a church can succeed with this type of diversity. The first ingredient is the most important. That is having a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, church unity is possible.
II. Body
A. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, church unity is possible.

i. My experience at Laicos Church.
B. If we look beyond ourselves, church unity is possible.

i. My New England Rock has a Bible verse. It is about how Jesus claims to be a servant.
C.       Church unity is important, so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus.

i. We need to be a witness so people can believe..

ii. The biggest complaint is our hypocrisy.

iii. Jesus prayed for it (John 17:21-23).
III. Conclusion

Sermon Manuscript

Exegetical Idea: Paul is telling the Philippian Christians that if they have received any encouragement in Christ, love from Christ, fellowship in the Spirit, compassion or mercy, then they will be able give Paul more joy, by being of the same mind, same love and same spirit, and to be humble toward one another.
Central Idea: A relationship with Jesus Christ and having the ability to look beyond ourselves can produce unity, so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus.
Pithy Statement: We need to seek unity so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Text: Philippians 2.1-4 (New Living Translation)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. 3 Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.

Introduction

It seems that in all parts of the world, there are social barriers of some kind. In America, economic barriers continue to exist, as there are the poor, middle class, and the elite. Racial barriers also continue to exist in America even years after Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech “I Have a Dream.”

Take my parent’s hometown, Monroe, Michigan, for example. According to my brother there are still rail road tracks that divide the black and whites. The whites have more money and more power in the town, while the blacks on the other side live in poverty.

Or take Dodge City, Kansas, where the population consists of around 50% Caucasian, while the other 50% are Mexican immigrant families. And in that town, the Mexican immigrant families live in poverty, while the whites are well-off and live on other side of the town.

This is typical in America. There are cities and towns all over America divided because of a person’s skin color or ethnic background. America tries to have diverse unity. They really do. However, for the most part, it still seems difficult for the American people of different races or ethnic backgrounds to get along and do things together outside the workforce. Whites still only hang out with whites, African-Americans hang out with African-Americans, Middle-Eastern people hang out with Middle-Eastern people, Asians hang out with Asians and Hispanics hang out with Hispanics.

Transition: However, the church should be different. The church should be able to succeed in having unity among race, culture, and gender. I really do believe it’s actually possible. However there are two vital ingredients in order that a church can succeed with this type of diversity. The first ingredient is the most important. That is having a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, church unity is possible.

Body

I. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, church unity is possible.

I believe that if people have Christ in their lives, people can at least begin attempting to create a church community where minorities can feel loved, accepted and safe.

Some of you may know that I worked at Reverend Kim Yohan’s previous church, in Boston, Massachusetts. While working there for two years, something happened. I began to fall in love with the people in that church. I began to see them more than just being Korean or just another culture in this world. I began to see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. I began to see them as human beings.

However, before I go any further about my life at Laicos Church, I have a confession to make. Before working at Laicos Church, I didn’t know what to think of Korean people. It wasn’t because I was scared of different cultures, for I have had in the past many friends of different races including, a Haitian-American as a roommate and a Mexican-American roommate during seminary, and I learned a great deal from them.

But when I was in seminary, there seemed to be two types Koreans. There were a few Koreans who were very open to having friends of different cultures, and then there were the group of Koreans who just wanted to stick together, having no desire to interact with other cultures.

But as I reflect on my years in seminary, I have another confession to make. If you were an outsider looking into my school’s cafeteria, you would see whites hanging whites, Koreans hanging out with Koreans, and African-Americans hanging out with African-Americans, with very little effort in students trying to learn how to interact with each other.

Nevertheless, because of my experience at Laicos Church, I began learning how to interact with Koreans, at all types of levels. Thus, helping me become part their family, as the church leaders often (e.g. Kwansanim and Chipsanim) looked at me as their son, rather than anything else.

Transition: I believe that when we have the first ingredient, which is having Jesus Christ in our lives, unity is possible, and when we have the second ingredient, unity is also possible. That second ingredient is for us to looking beyond ourselves.

One way we can look beyond ourselves is when we begin learning to how interact with people who are different from us – similar to my experience at Laicos Church. When a person begins to learn how to listen and understand other people’s backgrounds, they are essentially looking beyond themselves.

I admit that it’s difficult for me to interact with people who are different from my background. If it was easy, every church and every Christian would be doing it.

Transition: Another way we can look beyond ourselves is to be willing to serve one another.

II. If we look beyond ourselves, church unity is possible.

On my desk I have a New England rock that has Matthew 20.26-28. This rock that I’m holding up was given to me by an old church member as a parting gift, before I leaving for Korea. He asked me what Bible verse I wanted on it. I told him Matthew 20.26-28. These verses are in reference to Jesus Christ saying, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” I have this rock on my desk, so it can be a reminder to what a Christian is to do, and remind me more importantly that it was our Savior who said these very words “I did not come to serve but to serve.”

If anyone had audacity to say they deserve power and prestige, it would have to be Jesus Christ, for he is God! Jesus is only one who has lived on this earth, who deserves such acknowledgement and power. But instead, he lived a humble life, willing to serve the people - the society most often avoided.

It’s interesting to me in the type of people he was willing to serve. He was willing to heal lepers, when the society was trying to stay away from them. Jesus was willing to heal the demon possessed when people were afraid of them, and he was even willing talk with Samaritans, who were hated by the Jews.

Yes, I find it amazing in the type of people Jesus was willing to serve. However if a community of believers continue to be willing to serve all kinds of people, including those who are different from them, then church unity is possible.

Transition: But so what? Why should I care if there is unity in the church? Why not just let things be? Allow Koreans hang out Koreans, whites hang out with whites, Hispanics with Hispanic and African-American with African-Americans. Why should we care so much about church unity? Because when a church seeks unity, then people will see the message of Jesus being lived out, instead of just being preached. Church unity is important, so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus.

III. Church unity is important, so we can testify about the Gospel of Jesus.

You see, I think church unity is possible when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ and when we look beyond ourselves. I really think it is possible. Furthermore, I believe that church unity is important so we can be witnesses to those who still don’t believe.

One of the biggest complaints that non-Christians have about Christianity, at least in America, is that they do not see the love or unity in the church. Often, the people who complain about no unity churches perceive those churches as self-righteousness and prideful. And to be honest, I almost left the church because I was also having a hard time seeing the love exist in one of the churches I used to attend. However, through God’s grace, I did meet a group of Christians who showed me that unity is possible because of the love they had for each other.

Church unity is important in the church so we can be witnesses to those who still don’t believe.

One of the reasons, it’s so important to be a witness is because, if people do not have Jesus Christ, they do not have any assurance of heaven, and there are Koreans and foreigners right here in Korea who still do not know Jesus. There are Koreans in America and in England who still have not accepted Jesus. There are Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Mexicans, Arabians and Africans who still do not know or have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Yet, if the church does begin working toward genuine unity where people of different race, color, culture, gender or social class, feel safe, loved and accepted, in which some churches are already doing all over the world, then the those who do not believe will wonder how is that church able to have such unity, and possibly even ask themselves, “Why does that church even care about foreigners?” And our response to them will be “It is because of Jesus Christ!”

Church unity is important, so it can be witnesses to those who still don’t believe, because Jesus even prayed for Christians to have unity. This is what he said,

21 My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father-- that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. 22 "I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are-- 23 I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:21-23 (New Living Translation)

If anything, church unity should be important because Jesus himself even prayed for the church to be an alternative place where people of all kinds, can feel the genuine love from God and the love Christians have toward each other.

Conclusion

If there is anything we should take home, it’s this. Church unity is important so that we can be witnesses to those who still don’t believe.

I believe that if people are witnessing churches create unity in the name of Jesus Christ. If people are witnessing churches as communities where social barriers are broken. If people are witnessing churches where people are unified through love and humility, then churches would be going beyond just preaching the Gospel, but living out the Kingdom of God. And when that is done, the church will be able to answer this question when asked, “How’s it possible?” The church can say, “It’s because of Jesus Christ.”

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