Excerpt from “The Power Of Unity” Empowered Believers Empower the Church.
Jesus lived on earth for thirty years and began His ministry with a rag tag group of men that became His first twelve disciples. For three years He walked with them, He talked with them, He broke bread with them, and He showed them the Father. He planted the seed of the word in their hearts and demonstrated the manifestation of God’s love through the many signs, wonders, and the miracles He performed. Jesus envisioned the church, His body, as whole. He envisioned His body as unified, and so He prayed.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17:22-23
Jesus prayed that we would all be one. But how? How can people from so many different cultures, social backgrounds, walks of life, even different skin colors become one? It all begins with a relationship with Jesus. We know that the first twelve disciples were a very unlikely group including fishermen, tax collectors, and a political zealot. Yet they all had one thing in common, their relationship with Jesus.
I was recently contemplating the focus of this book. I knew that the topic was empowering the church through unity, but I wanted to hone the specifics of what God wanted me to share.
As I sat drinking my morning coffee, I asked God to clarify His message more fully. I heard, “Success and happiness are found in healthy relationships. The key is knowing those to keep, those to create, and those to walk away from.” My takeaway from this is simple. Who you associate with and how is important! Developing healthy relationships is crucial. It is not about who you are or where you come from, it is about who you know. The twelve disciples had this one thing in common, their relationship with the Lord.
They did not become seasoned apostles overnight, not by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, they began by sitting at His feet…learning, observing, and becoming. Transformation is a process. It is a process that requires our co-operation.
The twelve spent three years being discipled as followers of Jesus. Their relationship with one another, and with Jesus grew and matured. They learned to exercise their faith when Jesus sent them by twos to minister to the people. They experienced the many miracles that Jesus performed because they were there at His side. They were also active participants in many of the ministry opportunities, such as feeding the crowds that had come to hear Jesus. Being with Jesus afforded them the luxury of hands on training. Their teacher did not just tell them what to do, He showed them. They had firsthand knowledge of all that He said and did. This was possible because of the relationships they had developed.
Because of the relationship they had with Jesus, they became devoted and dedicated to serving him. As a result of the things that He taught, their minds were renewed. This rag tag group was transformed into the foundational leadership of the future church. Only God can transform a heart, but we must participate.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, Ephesians 2:19-20