"Feeling Isolated or Accepted?"
a Bible message by Mr Tom Pow,
Tingira Community Church, Belmont North
|[Note this message was originally supplemented by a slides from a PowerPoint presentation which has not been included here at this stage.]
Personal Relationships and Jesus' prayer for Each Christian
(the following story is from Nelson’s complete book of Stories, Illustrations and Quotes)
Imagine that you are the unseen witness in a carpenter’s shop. The tools are holding a meeting:
Brother Hammer is chairing. Several tools suggested he leave because he was too noisy.
Hammer replied that if he had to leave, Brother Screw must also go because you have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.
Brother screw spoke up, “If you wish, I’ll leave, but Brother Plane must leave too, because all his work is on the surface so his efforts have no depth.
To this Brother Plane responded: “Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right”.
Brother Rule then complained about Brother Sandpaper: “You ought to leave too because you’re so rough you always rub people up the wrong way”.
Just then in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth. He had arrived to start his day’s work. Putting on his apron he went to the bench to make a pulpit to use for his sermon the next day.
He employed the hammer, screw, plane, rule, sandpaper, and all the other tools.
After the day’s work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked: “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord”.
How important are you in the purposes of God?
Each person in the church is important within the purposes of God because, like the tools in this analogy we all have our individual gifts to offer the Carpenter of Nazareth. However, it is often this individuality that stands between us as fellow workers.
In John chapter 17:21-22: Jesus prays to his father and shows the purpose of His mission.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. 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.
There is no more obvious desire of Jesus than the desire that we might be one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit “AND WITH ONE ANOTHER”.
This is what being saved is all about, and the reason that Jesus came and died for our sins.
Isolation from God is a problem that started right back in the Garden of Eden when sin separated Adam and Eve from God. This separation led to disagreement between Cain and Abel resulting in the first murder.
Jesus mission was to reunite mankind back to his Father but also with one another.
Do we really understand the message of salvation? Do we understand or comprehend the deeper implication of that message? And what is that message? “Jesus’ greatest passion is that we not only become one with Him and His Father, but also our fellow Christians as we share the journey to the Celestial City”.
Rubbing shoulders with others:
Each day as we continue our spiritual journey we have interaction with others, but what is the result of that interaction? Does it bring us closer to unity with the godhead and one another, or do our personalities, preferences and minor differences cause us as God’s people to become critical and isolated from one another?
You see we often have the tool’s problem because we see our own importance and fail to see that it is the combined effort of the church body that God uses to accomplish His purposes.
The sneaky thin end of the wedge:
Relationship problems don’t always start with obvious things such as, an argument or major family difference, but rather with personal preferences and intolerance.
An honest confession is good for the soul but not for the reputation. So, let’s do an audit.
Does our focus as we join with our church family concentrate on the areas where individuals or the church as a whole, are not conforming to “our concept of what church should be?” or meeting our personal preferences? Here are just some of the things that can rate as annoying:
¨ The hymns that we sing don’t suit my taste?
¨ The requests to stand or sit when we sing seem to be a power kick by the conductor.
¨ The body language of other Christians is a bit over the top, etc.
Concentrating on the negatives then produces the following feeling:
¨ There are so few people that related to me, I feel so alone.
¨ Then you go home and add up the reasons why the church was failing ***YOU***
You see our attitude establishes the point that we are walking alone in our Christian journey and we begin to feel isolated. All the time Jesus is praying to the Father that every Christian no matter who they are, their cultural differences, or even what their worship preference is, they should be one with Him and each other. Christians from other churches are part of God’s family too, so whether this applies to the church we attend or to the members of other churches, Jesus prays for oneness in the Christian experience. Why? Let’s look at the quote from Jesus:
“So they will be in us, AND THE WORLD WILL BELIEVE YOU SENT ME”.
The tools of the Carpenter of Nazareth must be available:
The Carpenter of Nazareth wants the tools He is trying to use to be sharp and available at the point when He is ready to use them. This cannot happen if the tools are discontented and not concentrating on the real purpose for their existence.
The Community is watching:
The outside community is watching how Christians relate to one another. They see not only how the local church members treat one another, but also how the wider Christian population treats one another. What they see makes a lasting impression on their attitudes and beliefs.
The message we all need to absorb is that our likes, dislikes and preferences often stand in the way of an answer to this important prayer of Jesus ”That they might be one with us and the world will believe you sent me”.
Do you feel alone?
If you are going through a time of discontentment, isolation, seemingly all alone, or at loggerheads with other Christians it is essential that you read John 17. It could explain exactly why you are where you are. Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is, and as a result be one with our fellow Christians. The message is emphasized to us in these verses..
The following passages encourage God’s people to apply the brakes and evaluate where we are when problems arise in our personal lives and in the church family: Jesus said in John 13:34-35: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Then in 1 John 4:10-13 we read: "This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.”
Again in 1 John 3:14-16: (NLT) If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who doesn’t love them is still dead. Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. (Give up our preferences, or minor differences.)
Psalm 133:” How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when Christians live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the fragrant anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life forevermore”.
Let’s take a closer look at what David may have had in mind when he penned this great Psalm.
Mount Hermon supplies the refreshing water that flows via the Jordan River into the Sea of Galilee. Because there are hot springs that also enter the Sea of Galilee the fish come to the warmer water and it is here that the fishermen cast their nets and make a livelihood.
This psalm helps us to get a “real life picture” of what the prayer of Jesus is all about:
¨ Unity starts in the heights of heaven and flows down to us via the coming of Jesus.
¨ Jesus blood shed at the cross is the river and the refreshing dew that flows out over the land.
¨ The Sea of Galilee reminds us that the blood of Jesus Christ gives us peace and hope, and satisfies our spiritual hunger.
¨ The gift of Eternal Life is the ultimate blessing bestowed on those who come to Jesus.
¨ The present and ongoing result is oneness with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND one another.
Are we assisting Jesus or hindering Him:
The real thrust of Jesus’ prayer is His desire for us to be ONE with the godhead AND ONE with each other.
The question is: “Do we help God to answer His prayer, or do we allow distractions and personal preferences to get in the way?
Saved for a purpose:
God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to save us, but that through oneness with Him we might come to discern His mind. Therefore there is one prayer, which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus, “that they may be one just as we are one”.
Your will be done, Matthew 26:42:
Like Jesus, if we pray: “Your will be done” then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom to accomplish what is best and leading us into oneness with Himself and the wider Family of God. This is the Father’s will and this is what Jesus longs for in you and me. When we understand what God’s will is, we will not become small-minded and cynical or allow our personal preferences to get in the way of the purposes of God for His Church.
If you or I are moving away from this oneness, God will not leave us alone until Jesus prayer is answered because Jesus request to the Father is: “That they ‘ALL’ may be one ”
We are all wired up differently (Tim LaHaye):
This therefore is a personal and very private struggle that every Christian has to undergo because we are all wired up differently. The difference in our personalities and temperaments means that we have to overcome different problems as we search for unity.
Imagine a Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric and Phlegmatic being part of a church organization, and then try to imagine them agreeing on the style of worship service, the details of the church business meeting or who should be an elder or run the youth group.
¨ The Sanguine would be trying to sell the idea to the group.
¨ The Melancholy would be feeling isolated because nobody understood him.
¨ The Choleric would be dogmatically demanding that the group listen to him.
¨ The Phlegmatic would be tossing in humorous quips that could annoy others.
Now get another picture in your mind. Imagine the compounding of these personalities through intermarriage where it is hard to determine from where some people are coming.
Godly unity becomes a spiritual searchlight to the Community:
The prayer of Jesus cuts across personal barriers and can bring unity within the church as each person submits to the will of God and not their own personal feelings. When this happens, Godly unity becomes a searchlight to the world, a light set high on a hill, which is the main thrust and purpose of Jesus’ prayer
The Profile of the church: The church comprises of many different temperament types and personalities with different needs and ideas. There are also many cultural, social and theological differences.
An experience can get in the way of the purposes of Jesus:
In Matthew 17:1-8 three entirely different temperaments types go with Jesus up the mountain. Here we see Peter’s personality coming to the fore. Jesus’ appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter blurted out, “Lord, this is wonderful! If you want me to, I’ll make three shrines, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. ”But even as he said it, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him. LISTEN TO HIM.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said, “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked, “THEY SAW ONLY JESUS WITH THEM”.
Sometimes when God reveals something special to us we stop and worship an experience instead of looking for the deeper meaning behind the experience.
So what was the “deeper meaning” Jesus was trying to get through to the disciples with this experience?
Just prior to this event in Matthew 16:21-23 Jesus was telling the disciples that He had come to die. Again, Peter has his own agenda regarding the will of God. Peter said, “This can’t happen”. Jesus message to Peter was: “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.” This is often one of our failings, i.e. inadvertently helping Satan by seeing things from a human point of view and missing the real desire of Jesus for His people which is, in the case of Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 17, “Being united with Jesus and one another in our spiritual mission”.
The Experience on the mountain was to establish in the disciples' minds that Jesus was the sent one from the Father and that when He talked of dying for the people they must believe Him.
Personalities can also get in the way of Jesus will and teaching, Matthew 20:20-28:
Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favour. “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, will you let my two sons sit in places of honour next to you, one at your right and the other at your left?”
Dissension and division were the end result of this request:
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. This request for personal satisfaction brought dissension and division amongst the group and this was diametrically opposed to the purposes of God for His people.
Love for each other breaks down all barriers:
The obvious message in all of Jesus teaching was that we follow His example in all matters pertaining to the kingdom. Therefore, as we carry out our mission and journey towards the Celestial city the main thing God asks of us is that we seek His will and purpose in everything we do. The practical application here is that our love for each other surpasses all barriers
Ephesians 5:1-2: Follow the example Jesus has set:
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him. Is what we do a sweet perfume rising to the throne of heaven?
Ephesians 5: 3-9: Live as a mirror of God’s purity:
Do we mirror the life of Jesus to the community around us?
Ephesians 5:10-14: Seek the mind of Christ:
¨ Work in harmony with each other.
¨ Don’t be party to things that cause isolation and discord
¨ Keep the light of hope and comfort shining on the community around us.
¨ Always seek to find what God’s will is for His people.
Feeling ‘I am right and you’re wrong’ can be the source of disparity between Christians and can cause isolation and cracks to appear in our relationships with one another.
Keep the light of life and hope to the community around us burning brightly.
And keep in mind Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21-22:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. 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”.
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This page last updated 6 February 2006
Copyright of this article belongs to the author, Mr Tom Pow.