UNITED WE STAND
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United we stand

 

Jn 17:20-26, Ep 4:1-6

 

INTRO: ILLUSTRATION Bees Demaree

1 large colony produces more honey than 2 small colonies

Demaree prevents swarming & keeps colony together

Describe Demaree method

Bees: some stay on top, others only in bottom, many move between

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY:  SAME SEX & MINISTRY DEBATE

People at both extremes - strong feelings

Many in middle - can see both sides of argument / don’t know

Seen in whole church - survey results - Sessions, Presbyteries

Survey - people wanted General Assembly to make a decision

Seemed impossible to avoid a split - a move to delay decision

People are afraid because a split will weaken the church as a whole

Lengthy debate - all Monday.  Very close vote

 

JOHN 17:20-26

v.20  Jesus prays for all who believe in him

v.21  “That they all may be one!”

ALL ONE!  Is this possible?

 

WHAT DID JESUS MEAN?

v.21  May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you

Everyone who believes in Jesus is part of his body

Ep 4:4  “There is one body”

 

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

v.21  “I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one”

The Spirit of God living within us

Ep 4:3  “Do your best to preserve the unity which the spirit gives”

Ep 4:2  This means being humble, patient, gentle and tolerant

You can have your own view & at the same time have the humility to accept that others may see things differently

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Jn 17:21,23  “so that the world may know that you sent me”

People will see God’s love in action and believe Jesus came from God

 

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL

 

PRACTICAL SITUATION

If General Assembly had prohibited induction of same sex relationships

How could it be applied in practice? - difficult

 

No reason to prohibit celibate gay people from ordination or induction

What if they later want to live with partner - will they have to leave ministry?

 

What about single, celibate heterosexuals?

 

There is no Scriptural reason why they should not share a house with a friend of the same sex - platonic relationship

 

No reason why homosexuals should not share a home with a platonic friend

The bible does not prohibit friendship

 

Rather Bible teaches that “it is not good for a person to be alone”

We all need companionship, supportive relationships

Surely we cannot say all single ministers must live alone

But how can we distinguish between platonic & sexual relationships?

 

I don’t have an answer - think about it yourselves

 

PREVIOUS CONTROVERSIES

The church has faced many controversies throughout the ages & had to seek wisdom from the Spirit: circumcision, church government, baptism, patronage, slavery, divorce, women, charismatics.

 

Free church deeply divided over whether to allow singing hymns.

Sometimes controversies resulted in splits -weakened church but the

church remained strong when people found way to continue working together.

 

IT HELPS TO SEE THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

Transubstantiation 450 yrs since Reformation.  People burnt at stake

Pre-millennialism, Post-millennialism - has anyone heard of it?

when/how Jesus would return - big controversy about it 50 years ago

Sometimes things that seem very important to us at the time are not important to the next generation

women in ministry - over 40 years C of S - still a live issue in C of E

Bible has over 3000 verses, only 7 any relation to homosexuals, Jesus none

Possible that same sex relationships will not be a live issue in 50 years

 

WE LIVE WITH PROFOUND DIFFERENCE NOW

C of S broad - range of views on fundamental beliefs of Christian faith - resurrection, virgin birth, incarnation, other faiths

We live with differences now, can we continue to live with difference?

 

ILLUSTRAIONS

Tony Campolo & wife different views on same sex debate.  Continue to be married, love each other, working together.

Many church members with a child in a same sex relationship.  My disagree with the child’s lifestyle but continue to love their child and consider them a part of the family

 

The Church recognizes that this a difficult issue, there are people with strong views on both sides.  Finding a way forward together is not easy

A Place of Hope (supported by the Guild) It’s aim is to enable people of differing views on this and other subjects to listen, understand and find a way forward together

 

CONCLUSION

Christians are in a minority in our society - as first Christians

This is a time to stay together

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL

 

Survey asked if people would leave C of S if Gen Assy decision was not what they wanted

Some at both extremes said they would leave

Many said they would stay within the church

 

I believe it is important to stay

If you disagree with the decision you can still have an influence

Important to keep praying, seek God’s will, trust God is at work  for good

 

Jesus: “I will build my church & the gates of hell will not prevail against it”

 

The Lord will continue to build his church no matter what & the building blocks will be Christians like you, me and all who seek to do his will

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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