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Be Unified

Sermon Series:

Hate Speech

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 4:1-6


Today is the day that the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, Amen. Amen. You know, when we say that, that's your moment just to kind of like center yourself, prepare yourself for God's word.

So let me start with a question here this morning, who has or has ever had backyard chickens? Raise your hand. Let me see. Okay. My family and I, we have, we have backyard chickens, uh, way too many eggs in the summer. Not enough in the winter. We're still working on that. So figuring that out. But let me ask, let me, let me paint a mental picture for you. Okay. We all know chickens. I want you to their legs tied together. Imagine that scene for a moment. Now, if this was youth group, I'd probably have a couple kids come up on stage and demonstrate what that would be like for us. I won't do that today. But I want you to think about what it would be like for two chickens to have their legs tied together. Okay, now take that mental picture and take these two chickens and throw them over a clothesline. What kind of chaos are you seeing in your head right now? Now, this mental picture, it shows us that it's possible to be united but not have unity.

It's possible to be united but not be unified.

We are called the United States, but we have red states and we have blue states. And while the country being divided may be a reality, that's not my primary concern here this morning. My primary concern is that the church is divided. I mean, the capital C church, at least here in America.

Now, listen to me. Unity does not have to mean conformity, but disunity always means weakness. Jesus Christ himself said a house that is divided will not stand. The world is divided but I tell you this it is not silent. My fear is that the church is divided and silent. And I think part of the reason that we are so silent is because we don't feel unified. What I mean is that I think more Christians, more churches would stand up and speak the truth if we felt more unified, not just united, but unified. What I mean is that we would not just say that we believe the same things, that's united, but that we truly, sacrificially love each other. That's unified.

And as we were discussing in this series, so much of the gospel, the gospel, Christians in the house, help me out in the other venues too, the gospel is also what we call good news. The gospel is good news, it's the message of Christ, it's the message of Christians, but so much of the gospel in our world is seen as hate speech. Why? Because we live in a world where truth in love is no longer tolerated. For instance, to hold to the biblical principle that all human life is created in God's image, that leads us to be pro-life. But in our day and age, pro-life comes with the accusation that you hate women. I'm going to tell you now, that's absolute insanity. That's not our heart. That's not our message. How has it come to this? How has it come to the fact that the good news is hate speech?

Well, I hope that you see that in the truth of scripture, the gospel always rubs up against the culture. The gospel has always pushed back against the societal norms. This is nothing new for our day and age. The gospel, God's truth, has always had friction with larger society. That's nothing new to our time. We're just feeling it like we've never felt it. But I'm telling you now, the church worldwide, the church universal, the church throughout history, they've always lived in that tension. The question is, is what are Christians to do? Well, that's what we're gonna begin to find out through this sermon series.

So if you would, would you please turn to Ephesians chapter 4. Now this entire sermon series we're gonna be walking through this chapter of the Bible together. Last week we zoomed in on one particular verse. One particular verse. For the rest of the series we're gonna zoom out and walk through this chapter together. But here's what I'm gonna tell you, Peace Church people, and if you're not a member of Peace Church, if you're not an attender, if you're not, if Peace Church isn't your church family, number one, thank you so much for coming. You're welcome here. Love the fact that you're here. Peace church family. Here's what I'm going to say to you. Here's your warning. Throughout the rest of the series, every message is going to be from Ephesians chapter four. Go ahead and just put your bookmark there. When you get to church, open it up.

Today, we're going to be looking at verses one to six. Now, as you're turning there, a reminder about the book of Ephesians. We call it a book, but it's actually a letter. The apostle Paul wrote this letter from prison to a church in a city called Ephesus. That's why it's called Ephesians. But listen here. Why is Paul in prison for preaching the gospel? So check this out. Paul's in prison for preaching the gospel and he writes a letter to a church. And what's the main part of this, this whole letter. He's telling the church to live out the very message that got him thrown in prison. That's bold. That's a high calling. Do you understand what that means for you? Oh, dear Christian, you are to live in a way where the authorities take notice and may toss your behind behind bars. I just came up with that in my head. It was really good. It's a bold call. It's a bold call that this man writes from prison. So with that, would you hear the word of the Lord? Ephesians chapter four, verses one to six, Paul writes and he says:

Ephesians 4:1-6

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This is God's word.

Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray. Father, we do come before you this morning, thankful for the chance to gather so openly and so freely. Our prayer today, Lord, is that as we look at this passage, I pray that we would stand as one in unity. May this happen for your glory by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through the strength of the Holy Spirit. And it is in Jesus' name that we pray these things. And everyone said, Amen.

All right, so last week we looked at the great call for Christians to be holy in an unholy world. And again, just to clarify, that doesn't mean that we're perfect. Holy means that we're set apart. That when the world, when the culture looks at Christians, they just see something other. They see something that doesn't fit in. That's what it means to be holy. But today if I can give you one main point, it'd be this:

When truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be unified.

The church must be unified. The call for unity in scripture is a primary call. Jesus Christ, in his final prayer, right before he was tortured and crucified. His final prayer when he knew his death was coming, what did he pray for? He prayed for our unity. He prayed that his people would be one. That's what Jesus prayed for. The call for unity is a primary call. So if we're going to be effective in this world, if we're going to be faithful in this world, we need to be unified. The church needs to be unified.

So as we look at our passage today, there's just two key ideas I want us to take away from as we flesh this out:

1. We must have unity between our walk and our talk.

2. We must have unity between our Christian faith and our church family.

1. We must have unity between our walk and our talk.

So first one, we must have unity between our walk and our talk. So my wife and I, we have this kind of weird quirk. We like to watch movies and TV shows with the subtitles on. Anyone else? Who does that? Who's really annoyed whenever that's on? Yeah, you people. I know it drives people crazy, but here's the thing, when you do that, when you watch this with the subtitles on, you pick up on something. Every now and again, what they say is not what is written. It's very interesting, it doesn't happen a lot, but every now and again you'll see that the dialogue they're having doesn't match what's written on the screen.

And in some ways I will tell you, I think that points to the sin in our lives. We Christians say things that are not written. Things come out of our mouth that do not come from the written pages of Scripture. And people who are watching us, because the world is watching us, they see this inconsistency in our lives. And this leads to one constant thing, and I think you know this.

If there's one constant name that Christians get called these days you might have guessed it hypocrites Christians are called hypocrites now a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another thing Like when when what we say doesn't line up with what is written Which is God's call scripture is God's call for our life, but you do know did you know that the word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypocrite? Hypocrite is a Greek word and it actually meant actor or stage actor. It's this connotation that you play one thing in front of people but it's not who you really are. You're one thing on stage but you're another thing in real life. You're one thing on Sunday at church, you're another thing at your job Monday through Saturday. Christians are called hypocrites because we say that Jesus is all we need, and then we fill our life with every material possession we can afford, and then we go into debt to get things that we can't afford, that we just simply want. Christians are called hypocrites because we say we are the ones all about love, but we can be so crass and unkind and unloving and impatient.

Are Christians hypocrites? We certainly can be. But for the watching world, they say to us, what you're saying isn't lining up with what is written. You don't really follow Jesus. You don't do what he says. You're not holy. You're just hypocrites. You're not holy. You're just hateful. And you know what? It's time that we need to stop saying, yeah, we're all hypocrites. We need to stop using that as an excuse and Christians need to start pursuing holy, erase the hypocrisy in our lives and according to what is written. The label of hypocrite is such a thing that so many people use as an excuse to continue in their sin. We need to be people that stop tolerating the hypocrisy in our lives and we start pursuing holiness. Until we do that in our own lives, the culture will never change.

Look what Paul said 2,000 years ago. Go to verse 1, and here's the thing. If you're a Peace church, if you're part of the Peace church family, you best have your Bibles open right now. That's my loving call out to you now for the rest of the series. I already told you Ephesians chapter four is we're going to be at. Not going to put the scripture on the screen. You're going to have it open in your lap. So please would you turn to have it open? Look at what Paul says in verse one. He says,

Ephesians 4:1

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

Or as we say around here, you need to walk the talk.

So what is this calling to which you have been called? Well, he's saying, if you have been called by God, meaning if you've received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you believe in the gospel, that was a call that God's placed on your life that you have answered. And if you've answered that call, then live like it. Jesus died so that you could have a new life, not so that you could continue in your old ways, so that you could be holy, not a hypocrite.

So I want to ask the men in the house a question for a moment. Men, I want you to be honest with me here. Now, when you get something like a new tool or maybe a toy for the kids that you've got to put together. How many of you, the very first thing you do is read the instructions? Like three of you OCD people, all right? All right, so let me just go ahead and call the other people. You know what? I don't read the instructions. It's not the first thing I do. Raise your hand. Let's just see it. You ever been out camping and see some dad try to set up a tent he's never set up before without reading the instructions? Absolute chaos until he makes a mess and then he reads the manual.

Question, question for everybody in the house. How badly do you have to mess things up before you will humble yourself and read the instructions? People in the house, I'm telling you when it comes to the Christian faith, when it comes to the way that God wants us to live, you must read the instructions. You will not naturally find a way to follow God. You will not, it's not in your nature to just to be able to figure out on your own. You will make a mess of things. That's the whole notion of sin. Our hearts are oriented away from God. You must read the instructions. You can't do it on your own. In fact, that's part of the root of sin. God has given us life's instruction books, and you need to read it. We must read it, and it's called the Bible. And in this book we are called to live a life that is worthy. Not like Thor lifting the hammer to know what Paul means to live in a manner worthy of your calling. He doesn't leave us just to try to figure out on our own. He gives us clarity of exactly what he means. Look two and three. Here it is. Here's how to live a life worthy of your calling

Ephesians 4:2-3

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

You may look at that and you think, well, that's pretty simple, right? How are we doing with that? This verse shows us how we keep unity between our walk and our talk, between what we say we believe and what is actually written, between our lives and God's plan. How we keep unity is by following those two verses. It's so easy to say what we are, it's so easy just to say what we believe, but we're not allowed to just say it. We have to, we must live it, we must make it evident in our lives. These must be the markers of the lives of all Christians. So let's all of us here online, in the chapel, in the venue downstairs, lets all of us just venture into the realm of getting uncomfortable for a moment. Because that's where growth happens. Let's look at these.

With all, all humility, everything you have, all humility. I think C.S. Lewis said it best, I'm sure you've heard this before. He said,

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.

It's thinking of others more than you think about yourself. How are we doing in that area?

Gentleness. Listen to me. Gentleness is not weakness. Because if you lack strength, you're not gentle, you're just soft. Gentleness denotes control. Gentleness, listen to me,

Gentleness is a strength that is kind to others.

That's gentleness.

Patience. You know what patience is? I'll give you one of the clearest and hardest definitions of what patience is.

Patience is willing to operate at another person's pace without frustration or resentment.

I'll say that one again. Patience is willing to operate at another person's pace without frustration or resentment. And that is a hard, hard calling for our fast-paced, get-her-done world.

And then Paul uses this very interesting phrase. Follow me on this. He says we are to bear, bearing with one another in love. That is such a powerful phrase. Do you know why? Do you know why this phrase is so unbelievably powerful? I'm going to blow you away for a second. Here's why. It's because of what Paul presupposes here. Paul presupposes something, and it's this. Paul presupposes that people are hard to get along with. And need I remind you, he's actually writing to a church. He's writing to a group of Christians. He's actually saying this to the context of a church. He's saying, Christians, hey, Christians in the church, guess what? Other people in your church are going to be hard to get along with. But you are to bear with them in love. I know this isn't like the actual, like, etymology of bear, but it gives me a picture of an actual bear. Strong, strength. It's going to take strength to bear with one another in love. He's saying, as a church, you won't always agree with everyone or with everything. That is going to happen. He's saying, people are going to annoy you. People are going to post things on social media that make you roll your eyes. Other people in the church are going to have bumper stickers for a politician you probably don't like. If your pastor is in his 40s, he's probably going to say some dad jokes every now and again. He's saying people fall short. They're going to forget your birthday. But you bear with them in love. In love. Why? Because we're eager.

Look at your verse, it continues. Why? Because we're eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:3

Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Are you eager for this to happen? Are you desperate for this to happen? Or are you content just to sit there and not contribute to what God's doing here? We are to have unity and peace. This is central to the lives of Christians. This is central to the church. And what is to define our relationship to one another? Of course, we just saw it. It is love, love with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. That right there. In so many ways should be the defining sentence for the Christian life. This should be the defining sentence for church members. These verses show us how to live in a way that is worthy of the calling God has placed on our lives.

But instead, here's a snapshot of the lives of Christians. 60% of Christians say that they can identify someone they have a hard time forgiving, with 23% saying there's someone in their life they can't forgive. Do you know that scripture says, if you don't forgive, God won't forgive you? An unforgiving heart is a one-way ticket to hell. We are called to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. 25% say that they don't give any money at all to the church. 80% say that they either give nothing or less than 10% of their income only around 20% of Christians Say they give to God a tenth of their income listen to me when Christians Actively choose. I know some are in a financial spot that that's different That's different, but I'm saying when Christians actively choose not to give to the church Something is off church family hear me on this a week in an unsupported church Result in a loss in an ungrounded society. Only 38% of Christians think that they should be serving or volunteering at church in some way. Apparently, over a third of us are very happy letting everyone else do the work. And listen to this one. 60% of Christians say they have unity in their church. Well, Jesus told us exactly what's going to happen to that church. It's going to fall. And this is so, so dangerous, which leads to our second point here, that we must have unity between our Christian faith and our church family.

2. We must have unity between our Christian faith and our church family.

So let me ask you this. Let me ask you this, why wouldn't you want to have unity in your church? I will tell you why people don't want to have unity in their church. Ready? I'll tell you exactly why people don't want to have unity in their church, because they'd rather have it their own way. That's why people don't want unity in their church, because they'd rather have it their own way. But yet, look at this, Scripture is focused not on your preference, Scripture is focused on Christian unity. Listen to what Paul says here, go to verse 4. He says,

Ephesians 4:4-6

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Church, three verses, one sentence with the word one mentioned seven times. Seven ways to emphasize the unity that we are to have with one another. So Church, let me ask you another question here. Have you ever seen a married couple fight in public? But clearly you've never been to Walmart. No offense to Walmart, got my shirt there. Not messing on Walmart here. But I'm telling you, I used to work in grocery store world for a long, long time. I tell you what, you see some things at a grocery store. I once saw this guy get so upset with his wife. This is a true story. He got so upset with his wife, he actually pushed his cart over. The whole thing fell over. They just were angry and he just shook it and just pushed it over. And I remember thinking even as a 17 year old, I remember thinking what in the world Get a hold of yourself man. That's your wife, dude Aren't you supposed to love her to like death be a part or something like that? How absolutely immature? That's what I thought as a 17 year old And listen, I did not gain respect for that person. I absolutely lost it. I Mean the physical feet of pushing the cart over was kind of crazy, but I didn't respect, my respect for him did not increase. I lost it. And I did not believe that man loved his wife.

And so when Christians, when Christians get into fighting or bashing each other on social media, the watching world has the same reaction that I did to that married couple. But listen to me clearly. Let me, I'm going to take some precious time to say this. I'm not saying there are not times that we need to call each other out. We see this actually in the Bible. Paul publicly called out Peter. Paul called him out, but listen to me, he called him out to his face, man to man. He didn't do it from behind a phone, he didn't do it from behind a screen. Paul called out Peter and he did it when Peter's walk and Peter's talk did not line up and it was so, so broken that it was actually detrimental to the church and it was leading other people, it was destructive for other believers. And Paul was desperate to maintain the unity and the integrity of the church. And so he called out Peter, two apostles, church, we are one body to love and to care for each other.

We are one group, no matter where you are on the cultural spectrum, wherever you are, on the financial scale,

We are one body, meant to worship the one Spirit, following the same Jesus, in our common faith to our true God.

Titus, chapter 3, Paul writes to Titus, who's a pastor, and he's giving him some coaching, and Paul says to this young pastor, he says in chapter 3, verse 10, he says,

Titus 3:10

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.

That's scripture y'all. That's scripture. Meaning the Bible would rather your church be small and unified than large and tolerate people who cause division. But let me ask you this, if you kick out a divisive person from your church you think they stop being divisive? No, they're going to write to social media and let all the world know exactly what they think. This call for unity is costly, but it's a paramount primary call for the church.

And so if I could, I actually want to, as your pastor, I just want to take an aside for a second. And I want to share something that I think could be the seeds of this unity in many ways for not just peace, but I think especially the American church, and it's this. It's when we are more discipled by online personalities rather than in the context of the local church. When we are more formed by faces on screen rather than scripture in the company of fellow Christians in the church. When we are discipled primarily by social media influencers rather than a group of believers who live around each other, worshiping together in the same church. I'm telling you, when we turn to the internet as our primary source of discipleship, it's unhealthy. It's unhealthy.

And before I get a flood of emails from all y'all defending your favorite online pastor, let me just clarify. I'm not saying you can't engage good Christian content. There are some amazing pastors who have great online platforms. But I'm saying as a general principle, if your primary mode of being discipled, if your primary shaping of your Christian faith comes from online voices and not the context of God's ordained church, local church, that's dangerous. That's so dangerous. We are primarily meant to be discipled. Hear me on this. I'm going to give you a really thick sentence. And if someone believes this, I need an amen. I believe we are primarily meant to be discipled by God's Holy Spirit through the right teaching of God's word under God ordained elders, under God ordained pastors who sit under the authority of God ordained elders as we sit in relationship with those who are in the local church. Let me say that again.

I believe we are primarily meant to be discipled by God's Holy Spirit, through the right teaching of God's word, under God-ordained pastors, who sit under the accountability of God's ordained elders, as we all sit alongside one another in relationship in the context of a local church.

Here's the problem. Pastors and personalities online often get us fired up about hot topics when we're meant to be on a path of formation by God's Word. There are so, so, so many bad theologians out there discipling Christians because they have a major platform and they engage bad hermeneutics and they have poor exegesis. What I mean is that they don't know how to read or properly apply the Bible. Here's a very specific way this happens, and I'm trying to train you to have ears to hear when you engage this online. This is what happens. Pastors use scripture to make a point rather than letting scripture make the point. This is why we're so key to read scripture first and make sure that everything we do say and teach comes from scripture, that I'm not teaching you something and say, oh yeah, I got a Bible verse to back that up.

I'm not saying we can't engage topical times, issues of topics, but as a church family, you gotta have ears attuned to this. Our unity that we are to have must be grounded in the truth. So let me ask you a question. What's more important, that we are effective in our ministry or that we're faithful to scripture. Go ahead, class, anybody. Faithful to scripture, absolutely. Being faithful to scripture predicates the other. Listen to me, I want us to be great at both. I want us to be faithful to scripture and effective in our ministry. But faithfulness to scripture must come first. We cannot sacrifice a faithfulness to what God has revealed in scripture in order to get people in the doors or in order to get people to feel the feels. Too many times we get people in the door and then we say that's effective ministry.

Our unity must be grounded in the truth and it must be displayed through our love for one another.

This is probably the last time I'm going to say this publicly but I'm trying to make a point with this. Peace Church was recently named the 29th fastest growing church in the United States. That blows my mind. That's awesome. That's God's goodness to us. That's your faithfulness in being evangelists out there and sharing the good news and inviting people to church. It's wonderful. It's wonderful. But I will tell you, I wish we could say we're among the most unified churches in the United States, but unfortunately we don't keep those lists.

So here's my challenge to you. Here's my challenge to you. We can't just be united by saying that we believe the same things. We must be united because our life and our faith and our practice is marked by sacrificial love for one another as we confess the same things stemming from the faith that we hold in common. So I'm gonna give you four questions. And I am not expecting you to respond to every single one. I'm just really hoping the Spirit uses one of these questions to challenge you. All right, so the first one's got like a couple questions within it, but you'll get what I'm saying.

Four questions, just listen to the Spirit prompting your heart for one of these, or more, but really just one.

1. Are you in relationship with people of your church?

Meaning, do you know your elders? Do you connect with any of our pastors? Or do you have community at the church and you serve with them?

2. Do you financially support God's work in this world, starting with the local church?

I will tell you, my wife and I, we support many Christian organizations financially, but our first 10% of everything we make goes directly back to God's church and it always will.

3. What happens more in your life? That you get fired up by watching online voices or that you're formed by reading God's word?

I think the Spirit's prompted me to say that one again. What happens more in your life? That you get fired up by watching online voices, or that you're formed by reading God's word?

4. Are you willing to submit to church leadership when it comes to secondary issues so that opinions and preferences don't become seeds of discord?

Our passage says, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, and love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Jesus Christ did this, modeled this, showed this, prayed this for us. He gave up his life for us, not just to the torment of a Roman cross. Jesus suffered the wrath of God in our place. He took our punishments. God poured out his wrath upon our sin, except Jesus stood in our place so that we didn't receive the wrath, he did. He did this so that we could be saved, so that we could have eternal life, so that we could have fellowship with God, and so that we could have unity with one another. And with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most important event that ever happened in the history of the world, with the resurrection proving that Jesus is who he said he is, proving that God's promises are real, both for our eternal life, Jesus' resurrection is the promise for our unity that we can have through the power and the presence of the Holy Spirits.

When we do not strive for unity, you cannot strive for something without letting something go. When we don't strive for unity, it's like we're telling Christ, your sacrifice wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. The world is increasingly calling our message, our ethic, hate speech. And we as a church, we cannot believe for a second that we will ever think that we'll be effective out there if we're not unified in here. So before we get out there and challenge the culture and win souls for Jesus, we must be unified as Jesus prayed. Because in a world where truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be unified.


Would you please stand up?

We have a world watching us and they're watching to see if our walk and our talk line up They're watching to see if what we say is actually what we believe and one of the ways we can demonstrate this for the watching World is with our voices joined together and worship So we're gonna sing a song that in many ways declares exactly what we believe So we're gonna sing what we believe but as we sing we're gonna join our voices together Both those who can sing and those who cannot Because that doesn't matter. What matters is our unity. So I pray, even you, way in the back, to you, way in the front. Let's lift up our voices. If you call on the unity of the church, now is the time to demonstrate that.

So, Father God, we come before you asking that you fill this place with the power, presence, and person of your Holy Spirit, who will bind us together in unity as we declare these truths alongside one another for God's glory. And in Jesus' name we pray these things. And everyone said, Amen. And everyone said, Amen.

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