Jesus is a rabbi, a teacher in the Jewish culture, teaching final, critical lessons to His disciples. The upper room discourse begins in John 13:31-38. Earlier in John 13, Jesus provided an object lesson for His disciples when He washed their feet. As He will soon be departing, Jesus desires for His disciples to thrive without His physical presence, as they will not yet be able to follow Him.
No matter their fear, uncertainty, failure, or doubt, Jesus has a final, powerful lesson for His disciples to learn: that loving one another like Christ is the way of perseverance.
We are studying some areas where God has grown us as a church body over the past few years. Last week, we looked at our identity and how we must view each other first as children of God and not any other label. There will be harmony in the church when we maintain unity.
Church research has revealed that before the pandemic, only three percent of churches in our country were experiencing measurable numerical growth. This growth was in churches bent on making disciples and spiritually reproducing. Ninety-seven percent of churches were in some form of plateau, decline, or process of closure. When the pandemic hit, these churches struggled even more.
There are two things common to all of us of faith: Jesus Christ and daily struggle. If you are in Christ, you struggle in the most unique and difficult ways. This is the reality of following Jesus. In 1 Peter 4:10-11, we see that a common Christ and a common struggle causes us to embrace a common encouragement in all of its varied and wonderful forms.
God places us in each of our specific contexts for an eternal purpose (1 Corinthians 12:18, Matthew 28:19-20).
Ephesians 4 begins the practical section of the book in which Paul lays out the spiritual maturity necessary to produce godly character. Maturing Christians have the attitude that they have never arrived.
Humans need to be together and to celebrate something bigger than themselves. We also need to be together as God's people. We prepare to be with each other, and we enjoy being with our Christian family. Our unity is based on our position in Christ and our disposition produced by the fruit of the Spirit.
God has ordained that the Christian life is to be lived not in isolation, but in conjunction with the community of saints. So how is it that Christians, particularly here in America, have become used to amputating limbs off of the body of Christ (which is the local church)? In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, the Apostle Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as being eyes and ears and noses—body parts. This is the same kind of language that Paul uses in Romans 12:5 when he writes that we are members one of another.
The Bible teaches that Christians are to be mutually reliant upon each other. This doctrine is incredibly important and should be a major heading in our ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). However, it has been almost entirely lost in American evangelicalism. Possible reasons include the American way of life that emphasizes independence and the rejection of denominationalism. American Christianity has become a complex collection of isolated congregations and an even more divided and isolated collection of Christians.
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