posted by Bethel Communications | Oct 4, 2020

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Show Notes

In a divisive world, how can the church be unified? Dave, Adam, and Jason continue looking at Sunday's Sermon and the passage from John 17:20-23 as we pursue unity under God's perfect example.



Dave Dawson:  Hey, Dave, Adam, and Jason here joining you for our deeper dive podcast.  Hey, so right before this started, we were talking about sports talk radio with Brock and Sock. And later with Tom, Jake and Stacy, do you think the three of us could ever get to that point where people were like, dude, almost in Dave, Adam and Jason. 

Jason Greene: I know. Yeah, no, no. Alright. 

Dave Dawson: Well fine. Well today we're taking a deeper dive into the second of the three key relationships that Jesus had and which Jason shared with us last week.

So the three relationships are with the Jesus had with his father, with his disciples and with the people of the world. So we've kind of boiled them down to, or. Uh, his relationship with God, the church and the world. So once again today, Hey, we're going to start off with a relationship with the church.

So Hey, just a couple of introductory comments on that. Hey, we all know that relationship with the church is complex, right? It can, it can be like the glorious center of your life, or it can be something that it does, absolutely absolutely derail some people's lives. So in our first episode, Which I have to add, if you would like to go back and listen to that can, uh, all three of us shared our own journeys with the church, and then I'm actually on the Sunday that refers to this very podcast, um, on John 17, uh, Drew Walsh, our worship leader shared his tumultuous relationship with previous bosses and other churches. Okay. Well guys, it seems like everybody has a story about the church. All right, everybody. 

Jason Greene: Yeah, that's true. I mean, we talked about it, like you said, Dave, back on episode number one. And, uh, you know, my, my journey with the church, um, began later in my life as opposed to some other stories. Uh, but, but my story is, you know, you said, uh, the relationship with the church is complex. No, no doubt about it. But honestly, my relationship with the church, um, in even serving the church in the capacity that I have for the last 18 years, it is, it has been good. And it has been an absolute joy, you know, to serve the local church. So ...

Dave Dawson: even with. I mean, the number of things you have gone through with just really difficult experiences, right. With previous pastors and that sort of thing.

Jason Greene: Yeah. And I'm sure this is where we're heading, but I mean, honestly, I, for the good and the bad man, the church is glorious and I really truly believe that the local church is the hope of the world. It's, it's exactly what we need. Healthy biblical churches for cultural moments like this, that we're facing.

Dave Dawson: Yeah, well, a couple, I think a couple of questions that arise in times like this, that we're in, COVID the political situation, et cetera, is, you know, why, why should we give priority to our relationship with the church and really is it worth it to fight for her health and her unity? Those are some of the things we'll get after in the next few minutes.

So, um, you know what, why don't we start off with defining the word church? 

There's a lot of let the hangs on it, right? It could be baggage. It could be something else. But Adam, what is, what is the church biblically? 

Adam Phillips: Well, COVID has taught us a lot of things and it's still teaching us a lot, but I think all of us were reminded at least that the church is not a building.

We met as church online for months and are just now getting back into a building. So it's not. It's not a building. It's about the people that are gathered around their common belief in Jesus, as their Lord and savior. In the Greek new Testament and the Greek old Testament, the church is referred to as the ekklesia.

If you just break that word down, the main verb is coleo, to call or to summon. And then right before that, that word act is away or out of. So it's this. God's summoning or calling a people to himself, which is a gathered people under the same Lord. And you have those ekklesia's locally expressed, Bethel's one of them, one of several in the tri cities that are connected together. And then there's the global connection as well of the ekklesia throughout the world. And I think importantly to remember, it's also just a connection down the timeline of history. It's not just us in 2020, it's the church that has professed the same thing and lived the same way since the time of Jesus. So maybe to sum it up, it's, it's a gathering of people who have been called by God. 

Dave Dawson: Okay. People in the world. Yeah. With both a, I mean, I really like with the way you put it and it's got a local expression, which we can all get super tied up in. Right. I mean, especially people like us, it's our world, but we are in a far larger context right now, the worldwide church and that sort of thing. So, yeah. Um, Jason, you kind of started this off saying you believe that the church is the hope of the world, right? So you, you've got a very high view of church.
So rather than just simply listening to ourselves about, you know, what church is and that sort of thing, what, what is the new Testament view on the church? Like what does the Bible say about the church? 

Jason Greene: Hm. Well, for those of you that are listening, what's really interesting is we have lots of global partners and one of our global partners is in Greece. And, uh, Dave and I were there a couple of years ago, actually together. And, um, we were talking about that word ekklesia and you know, here are these Greek speaking individuals that are really giving us some lessons as we're walking around their country, as we're talking about ministry into a Greek speaking world, I mean, just a different glimpse into the new Testament.

And, um, one of the things that they mentioned is, uh, you know, the church, the ekklesia. That was not the only ekklesia that existed in the first century. There were lots of  lots of called out people. Okay. But they were, they, they were called out and they, they surrounded themselves with likeminded people for various causes.

So like for example, um, there's a group of people. There was an ekklesia around a group called the zealots. You know, and it was this politically charged group of people that were adamant that Rome and Greek speaking individuals need to be ousted in Judea. And so, um, you know, they had their own ekklesia, and I think historically there, I mean, there have been so many other expressions of people there still are today.

Like you know, we could use that word ekklesia and say, man. There are. There are lots of  that exist in the tri cities, in the lower Valley. But Dave, to your question, uh, we are a unique ekklesia because like Adam mentioned, we, we surround ourselves. We are all, we are, we are a Jesus style people. We surround ourselves with Jesus and we might have similar, uh, I don't know, stances takes, uh, maybe ambitions as some, some other social gatherings or even, um, some individuals that want to bring some change to the world, but we are wildly different because we are a Jesus style people.

So I think that's really, it's helpful to keep in mind, right. That, um, though we might share commonalities with other groups. We were actually we're radically different and it's because of Jesus. 

Dave Dawson: Okay. So there's a lot of different, uh, ekklesias, you know, people come out, gathered around a person, gather on a concept, gathering in teaching or whatever. So we have to determine, okay, what, what, what is our uniqueness? What makes us different? Why does it the new Testament have such a high view of, of the church? I mean, I'll admit sometimes when I'm reading the letters of Paul. Or just, you know, just in the new Testament. And he goes into this sort of, um, uh, can I say a flowery high language about the church, talking about the people in the churches, the saints, the called out ones.

He says, you know, he says, if you, God, you, God say you are my people we're called the bride of Christ and we could go on and on and you look at that and you're like, wow, that is phenomenal. And then you go to church on a Sunday. That's right. And you'd like to look around you and you're like, are you serious?

Like, you gotta be kidding. Not to mention looking in the mirror. Right. It's like, Oh my gosh, I'm all out. So, so the new Testament has a very high view. Of church of this particular ekklesia right. So then we as Bible people, we need to have that same view regardless, like, regardless of the goofiness, right?

Almost like, I guess you could say almost the reality of what we see in our churches. So. 

Jason Greene: Yeah. And let me, let me just jump in there because I mean, like I said, at the beginning, the church is the hope of the world and it is, is the place that God has ordained. He could have, he could have picked any other system and he chose his ekklesias, he chose his church to be the institution on earth that is best equipped to promote human flourishing for people to actually come alive to the extent that he wants us to come alive in this broken world. So, um, yeah, it's, it is, it is no joke. The hope of the world. 

Dave Dawson: I heard one guy say that, you know, the church is really planning, right. Is the hope of the world. And it's like, what's plan B. Like there, there was no plan B, this is, we're just planning it. So. Alright. Well, okay. So here's kind of what we've established so far that, that the new Testament really, he gives a very high view of the church. One that we also should adopt. Um, But I think the fact is right now, um, people in churches all over the world really feel under siege, you know, and I think even, you know, here in the United States too, and, um, maybe even our way of life appears to be under siege and the church itself is struggling to maintain unity, right?

Like in light of our responses to COVID, whether you're. You know, you're a, you know, Hey, shut it down and just do things online or are you like, Hey, the government is against us. Let's all open. Um, we struggled to maintain our unity in light of political views. Uh, we struggled to maintain our unity in light with, uh, of dealing with the prevailing culture.

So I think we've all heard, like whether we're on the news or when we've talked with each other, is it, we live in these. In times that are quote unprecedented. We've never seen this before. It's like, Oh my gosh, is that like, is that true? Is that true? That this level of struggle for unity, we've never seen that before.

Adam Phillips: Yeah, I don't think so. I mean, I think it's, it's definitely precedented, which doesn't make it better. Right. But it, it, it gives us a clear view of reality, you know, just thinking about how politics and religion come together to split. Biblically thinking about Israel coming together as a nation, a few Kings pass by, and then that nation splits into two and you have, you know, first and second Kings tells a story of a nation divided and fracturing and spiraling down into the Quay.

And if you jump into the history of the church, you know, beyond that, You have this thing called the great schism of 1054. Is that where you want me to go? 

Dave Dawson: Yeah. Go for it, man. yeah. And that's something that actually rolls off the tip of most people's tongue, right? The great schism of 1054.

Adam Phillips: Yeah. Something I never knew about and had no reason to except I was in a history class in seminary and they talked about this and it was, it was fascinating to learn. So just in a nutshell, you have, have the old world. Think East and West don't think United States, but think Rome. And sort of their control over the Western world. And you have the East, the church was a lot smaller.

The world was a lot smaller at that time and they fought over some of the same things that we fight over still, who is the Holy spirit. And what does he do? What is communion? Do we use leavened or unleavened bread? What about authority in the church? And that was one of the big issues that divided the East and the West in 1054.

I mean before the Pope was who he is today, you had the Bishop of Rome and then you had leaders spread out throughout the East and West. And what the Bishop of Rome essentially tried to do was say, well, I have authority, not over just Rome, but also all y'all in the East. And, you know, in a nutshell, the Eastern leaders were like, Nope, You don't and the church divided there. And living in the United States, we don't think much probably about the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic church in Rome. But if you're over in those parts of the world, they're still very much a presence in the world and they look at each other and they don't see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. And so that divide, I think in 1054 is a part of just the continual divisions that you see in the church from 1054 on. 

Dave Dawson: So a couple of over a thousand years ago, and yet you're still dealing with some of the same types of things. Power struggles, theological struggles, personal struggles. 

Adam Phillips: Yeah. I mean, I have a friend who became Eastern Orthodox and was, we were talking about things and he, he would not look at me and see me as a true Christian. Wow. Um, so that's, you know, those divides a thousand years ago are still very much a part of the divisions in the world in Christianity today.

Jason Greene: You know, I've read the other day that there are, and this actually this article I believe was dated a couple of years back, but there are over 40,000 recognized denominations in what they would say is, is biblical kind of historical orthodoxy, you know, and I'm sure the number is bigger than that.

Right. But what a crazy, what a crazy number and. You know, talk about divisions and unprecedented versus precedented times, you know, it's interesting, you know, I mentioned the zealots, you know, when you look over and we're reading through the gospel, according to Matthew right now, um, when you read about the guys that Jesus brought on his team, he brought on a guy named Simon, the zealot, they call him the zealot, I think to probably differentiate him between you know, Simon Peter and Simon, the zealot. So here's this guy that was just politically charged with a group of people. They refuse to pay taxes. 

Dave Dawson: Never heard that before. 

Jason Greene: Yeah. But then you've got, but then you've got another guy whose name is Matthew, who wrote the gospel according to Matthew. And we just read in today's reading at this recording, that Jesus is going along and he sees a guy sitting in a tax booth.

His name is Matthew, and he calls him to follow him. And so here are two guys complete opposite sides of the political spectrum that do life with Jesus and help to leverage the mission of God in the world by giving their lives. Essentially to this cause. And so there has been division, I think always, but I also want to say there's been great hope.

That's what Jesus did. He brings people together, uh, not around the political cause, uh, not, not based upon your legalistic bent in this way or whatever it might be. Um, But, but this kind of gospel cause brings people together. 

Dave Dawson: Yeah. That is really cool. So we've got some, you know, historical things that we've seen that, um, same type of struggles today. We face that saw back then, and by the way, and you already said it, Adam, you know, those things that were, um, that happened back then still have like consequences and our reality today, um, We can, we can even look at the new Testament itself. You know, a number of the new Testament letters were written addressing problems, right?
Just to name a few, you know, Philippians four, remember Paul says, he says, Oh, by the way, I urged Euodia and Syntyche or Syntech, whatever, you know, urge them to get along. And he just kind of blow past that. But there was some, there was some power struggles going on there in the church, right? 

Adam Phillips: Yeah. 

Dave Dawson: And then I think of another one, uh, in first Corinthians 11, I mean, we'd go there so often, you know, for the Lord's supper. Right. And yet the intro to that is Paul says, Hey, I hear that there are divisions among you here in the church. And then he's kinda, he's kinda, you know, getting into them. Or getting on him for those divisions and then he launches into the Lord's supper. So, uh, we, we just see, uh, where these things are not unprecedented. They have, we have a long history of dealing with these things.

Jason Greene: You know, uh, we were talking before we hit record about, uh, Christian music, just kind of goofing around about Christian music and some of the goofiness that we have seen in our, in our, in our times with Christian music, you guys remember something called the Worship Wars?

Yeah. Remember that? Yeah. You know, a couple, couple of decades ago, right? It was this group of people. And I was, I was actually not yet a Christian. I was on the end of kind of these Worship Wars where it was like, man, did we sing hymns? Or do we sing these contemporary praise songs? You know, these types of things.

And it's really interesting. There's a book out there called Ancient Worship Wars and it talks about how. There have been divisions really for the last 2000 years over music. So, so for example, um, historically, uh, uh, for, for centuries, women were not allowed to sing in the church. There was a season, a significant season, where women weren't allowed to sing in the church and it caused division.

Um, there's a, there's a time in church history where. Uh, again, a large portion where instruments were not allowed. Um, some people believe that worship and singing was only for new believers because they were so young and so immature, they needed that. But you know, a seasoned saint, all we need is just the word,read is just the super dull way. Um, there were times where people got kicked out of the churches, if they would sing. Hm. You know, it was a professional only type of singing. And, you know, honestly, like we talked about, I'm comforted in hearing those stories because I look back on those and I go, you guys are goofy.

How could you divide it over that? And you know, a hundred years from now, the problems that we're going through as a church, people are going to go, man, you all are goofy. I cannot believe you're going through that.

Adam Phillips: Honestly. I just think it's incredible when you, when we're sitting here talking about. A small picture of the fractures that have taken place in Christ church throughout the years. I mean, there are so many more and yet as we sit here, we are part of a church. Of many churches throughout the world. And it's just a Testament to Jesus, his faithfulness that no matter how much we mess things up and fracture things and divide over almost everything. Like we have hope because Jesus, he's doing something to hold us together. And as we sit in this moment, when the church throughout the world and in our country, I think we're asking like, are we going to make it through this? The answer is, yeah. Not because we're going to do it, but Jesus is going to continue to keep us together.

Dave Dawson: He said, I will build my church. The Gates of hell will not prevail against it. We definitely have a part of God for that. Yes. Amen for that. So what. Why is this such a big deal? Right? What, what is at stake then in maintaining the unity of the church? 

Jason Greene: Well, you know, not to, we've talked about this podcast, we don't rehash the message, but what I've been struck by as we've been studying and then presenting to the church, John 17 is that God's mission is at stake.
I mean, that's what it is. That's, that's what John 17 says. It is for the sake of the mission of Christ that he has gifted us, this unity that we're supposed to fight for and to maintain. I really, the mission is at stake. So...

Dave Dawson: So unity in the church plays a part in our mission. Out of the church to the world.

Jason Greene: Yeah. I mean, it's, it's pretty clear in John 17, if you haven't studied it that, you know, our witness of him is connected to our oneness in him. They just go hand in. 

Dave Dawson: Do you, do you remember that? Uh, okay. Talking about old, old songs. Okay. So I, I became a Christian right around kind of old Jesus generation type thing. And one of the great songs we used to sing was. "And they'll know we are Christians by our love...". It was pretty, pretty close. It was real thing. Back then stop right there. So by the way, I found out that Jason actually sang in a band back in the day. I'd never sang in a band back in the day. So, but, uh, so that song really teaches us something though, right though that, uh, you know, there, our unity in the church, once again, just like you said at Jason, it really, uh, plays in what we do outside of it.

Adam, anything else? What do you, what do you see? What is at stake in maintaining the unity of the church? 

Adam Phillips: I think Jason hit it. I mean, broadly speaking, it's, it's the mission and the effectiveness of the church to be that hope in the world. Um, Jesus uses us as a fractured sinful people anyway, regardless of who we are to still compel people into the church.

But I think when we're unified. As diverse persons under the same message and the same Lord, there is something beautiful and compelling to the world as they look in. And we, when we look at, I mean, just think about our political system in our country. I mean, I think both sides look at it and say, man, what is going on?

Um, no one's feeling, I think quite compelled to be excited about it. The church. I think if we can work towards unity and loving one another. We can be that single community in the world. People are like, I don't even know those people. I don't know that I even agree with everything yet, but I want to be part of that community because they're loving each other, even despite the fact that they're way different.

Dave Dawson: Yeah. That's really cool. So, so we're all part of Bethel church in Bethel like churches across the land are all struggling right now to guard the unity of the church. Hmm. We are no different. We, we face every issue that we've. We've just talked about so far. So how do we guard the unity of the church? How do we, how do we do that? 

Jason Greene: Hmm, well, yeah, so I would say it starts with me. And I don't mean me as senior pastor Jason Green Bethel church. I mean me as an individual as a Christ follower. So I honestly, I, when the Holy spirit comes to dwell inside us, um, there is this, you know, according to Galatians, there is this fruit that is produced that really helps us to be shaped and to look more and more like Jesus.

So, um, I should be marked. More so today than I was yesterday, by love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control. I don't know if I got them wrong, but something like that. And yeah, I am to be an individual saturated by Christ and demonstrating the fruit of the spirit. Um, but as we do that collectively, right, it's a, it's a collective group of people that are doing that exact same thing that we are bearing those same character traits.

And if we're doing that, if I'm doing that with you guys, right. Um, chances are, you're going to be blessed by that. And chances are, you guys are going to even flourish because of that, when we're doing that together as a collective man, I like I'm feeding off of that, but there's also a watching world that is benefiting you.

You know what I mean? Because of that, I mean, we, we are gods. We're God's demonstration of his kingdom on this earth. That's what we are. I mean, that's what, that's what Jesus was, right. When he would go to place the place he was taking the kingdom of heaven. And it was, I mean, it was, it was, it was manifest in, like I said, all the, those, the fruit that we just mentioned, but just in his personhood. He carried the kingdom of heaven, everywhere that he went. And that's what we, as the church in a healthy way, when we're healthy, I guess we get to be the manifest presence of Jesus, right? Yeah. 

Dave Dawson: He said, remember when Jesus said you had this treasure, right. But you get this treasure in jars of clay and that's what we are clay. We're all broken people. 

Yeah. Right. Yeah. I really like what you're saying, Jason, when we come together, there is a power there that I think we, we don't even understand. It's literally one plus one equals three, right? A number of individuals coming together can have a power that is far bigger than just each individual person.

Adam Phillips: Yeah. And you're talking about what Jesus invites us into. And John 17, he's talking about, he's praying to the father that we would not only be one together, but that we would be in Jesus in the father. So he's, he's inviting us into this. Perfect unified community of the Trinity father, son, and spirit diverse persons who are one.

And I don't think it's too pie in the sky to say, like, there's something important about letting ourselves be swept up in a way into that community of the Trinity. Yeah. Through prayer, through Bible reading, letting, letting Christ form us by that perfect community so that we have. Some kind of understanding of what that means to live with each other.

Dave Dawson: So we're talking about, think if I could say you're talking a little bit about our union with Christ, you're talking, you're talking about the Trinity and yet we're talking about the unity of the church, right? I think here, here's the way I think I'd say it is. If we can have a view of the church that is way bigger than what we've got. And that takes faith. Right? I used to look at the word and then it's like, you have to have faith. You have to believe that because just looking at it, it just looks like the YMCA or something. Right. So, but if we have that view, we begin to see things happen on earth. That will happen in heaven. We, we, we see heaven like what you said, you know, heaven almost being brought down to earth. That is what can happen if we have that view. 

Jason Greene: That's true. Well, yeah, I guess just as we, as we conclude, you know, there is no doubt that the church has historically missed the mark, you know, in demonstrating how we are supposed to be the hope of the world.

Bringing it closer, like Bethel church has missed that mark. Not, not always and not intentionally, but we are a. Well, I mean, we follow a long line of broken, busted up people that are believing and trusting and putting our full weight on the fact that Jesus will never fail us, though. We will certainly fail him.

We will fail each other. And, you know, we, we, I think we just need to recognize and have that higher view. I love what you said at that. You know, this institution called the church. Um, It's it's been hijacked by cultures. It's been hijacked at times by political parties. It's been hijacked by us, by church leaders, right. At different times. Um, it has been exploited at times. It's been oppressed at times. Um, but the church is this beautifully broken group of people who will often fail to act in love. Like we should. However, the head of the church, Jesus said he will never fail us. And so that, I mean, that's our, it is the hope of the world because Jesus is the hope of the world.

Dave Dawson: Yeah, that is great. Well, we can talk about this for a long time. Uh, kind of enjoy the fact that we have getting after unity and what the church is, we've gone back. Adam brought us back, uh, you know, 1300 years ago when it goes, it's pretty good. We've taken a look back in time and now Jason has just challenged us to look forward.

Right. You know, um, into what we, we can be by looking by looking to Christ. Well, thank you guys. This has been a fun one. I appreciate this one. This has been great. Yeah. Alright. Hey, we'll see you guys next week.

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