Matt Hagee - The Power of Unity
We live in a world that loves to discuss the topic of "Unity". Say, "We need to be unified," and people will agree with you. Talk about unity in church, and they'll say a good, loud "Amen". But when it comes to actually doing the work that is required for people to be unified, they seem to forget what you were talking about altogether. In Luke, we see Jesus Christ praying his final prayer.
Today in John's gospel, in this last prayer, we get a glimpse of the words that he said. And we read them in John 17:20. If you're there, say, amen. Let's read together. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word: that they all may be one", read that again, "That they all the may be one, as you, father, are in me and I in you: that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory, which you gave me, I have given them: that they may be one just as we are one. I in them and you in me: that they may be perfect in one: that one world may know that you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me".
How many of you know that right here Jesus Christ is speaking about you and I being one? Over and over and over again, he says it, "That they may be one. That they may be in you as you are in me," repeatedly. On the last night that he knelt in prayer before his arrest, before his crucifixion, he asked God for one thing: that you and I would be unified. The question that I want you to ask yourself today standing in this sanctuary listening to these words: "Are you an answer to Christ' prayer or are you an unanswered prayer"? Are you unified with the body of Christ or is your heart and mind divided, not allowing his request before God the Father to be answered? Let's pray:
Heavenly Father, today we open your word that is alive and it is powerful. Today we listen to your Holy Spirit speak to our hearts. And now we ask that you would give us ears to hear and faith filled with action: that whatever divides us as a body, whatever divides us as believers, whatever divides us from one generation to the next, it be destroyed, in the mighty name of Jesus: that we would know the power, and the grace, and the passion of the body of Christ when we live in unity. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. John 17 takes us to the prayer that Jesus prayed before he was arrested. And it's concern to me that in many cases, this prayer still goes unanswered today. Jesus Christ was not arrested that night, he was not beaten, he did not shed his blood and die on a cross to start 200 denominations. Jesus gave his life because he wanted those who believed in him to be one. When he comes back to earth and he takes us to heaven, he's not going to assign us to the gated communities in heaven based on how we worshiped here on earth. There's not going to be a Baptist neighborhood, and a Pentecostal neighborhood, and a charismatic neighborhood, and a church of Christ neighborhood. There's just going to be one gate. And if you get in, you're going to have to spend a lot of time with a lot of people that you probably didn't get along with down here on earth.
I find it very interesting the prayer he prayed whenever he was sitting and praying and kneeling before the father. He did not ask the Lord to give us prosperity. In these final words in his earthly ministry, he didn't say, "Lord, I'm asking you to give them hilarious success. I want them to be so prosperous: they won't know what to do with all of the riches that they would receive". It doesn't mean that Jesus isn't concerned about your prosperity. When you read the Bible, you find 2 Corinthians 8:9. It says that Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for our sakes, he became poor: that through his poverty, you might become rich.
If Jesus didn't care about your prosperity, he would not have purchased it at the cross of Calvary. But he still wasn't asking God that night for you to be prosperous. He didn't kneel and ask God for us to have supernatural power. He didn't say, "Oh Lord, whenever they gather together in my name, let them have supernatural signs and wonders. Let miracles be done. Let stadiums be filled and people come to receive healing touches of great resources of heaven". No, he didn't pray that way. Does that mean that Jesus doesn't want us to have power? Absolutely not. He told his disciples, "And you shall receive power", say that with me, "And you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you". That's Acts 1:8. He gives us authority with power. He said, "Whatever you bind on earth, you shall bind in heaven. And whatever you loose on earth, it shall be loosed in heaven".
That's power. The truth is, if you understood how much supernatural power Jesus Christ wanted you to have, it would stagger your imagination. Just think about this: Moses said in the book of numbers, "God is not a man that he should lie". Isaiah echoed that sentiment when he said, "Let God be true and every man a liar". Jesus said, "Thy word is truth". So how many of you know that there is no exaggeration in the Word of God? So we read from the Word of God that Jesus blessed bread, and he broke it, and he fed 5.000. That's more than are in this sanctuary right now. We read that he walked on water. We read that he spoke to the storm, and the winds and the waves ceased. That's power. And then this God, who cannot lie, this word made flesh, he said to those who followed him, "Greater things than these shall you do".
So how much power does God want us to have? More than we see in our services these days. But when Jesus knelt to pray, he didn't ask God for us to have prosperity. He didn't ask for God to give us power. He said, "Lord, make them one". Because he knew that if we would walk in unity, he knew that if we would become one in him, he knew that if we would sacrifice our will to accomplish his will, we would have all of the power, and all of the prosperity, and all of the strength that we need to turn the world upside down. The question is, "Are you a part of answering that prayer or are you leaving that prayer unanswered," because unity requires sacrifice? Say that with me, unity requires sacrifice.
The price of unity is the sacrifice of self. And the thing that gets to be real difficult when it comes to this topic of unity is we are more than willing to talk about sacrifice: we just want the other person to be the one that does it. I will get along with you so long as you give yourself for me. Whatever I want, let's do that, and then we can be unified. Let's apply this in some personal ways. How many of you know that self-sacrifice is beneficial to your marriage? The rest of you either have no clue bad rotator cuffs, or just don't have the courage to raise your hand. Or you're in a fight right now and you don't want to admit that the preacher's right and you're wrong. "These two," saith God, "Shall become one". Not two, one. And in order for two to become one, both have to sacrifice. You read the New Testament, it gives the wife a command, "Honor your husbands".
Sacrifice yourself in honor to him. It gives a command to the husbands, "Love your wives". Sacrifice yourself as an expression of love to her. It's mutual sacrifice: otherwise, it doesn't work. What does it cost to become unified with the church? Sacrifice. Jesus Christ loved the church, and he gave himself. Say that with me. He gave himself. He sacrificed himself for the church. He is our example. He says in the New Testament in Titus 1 that leaders in the church must not be self-willed. He said, "A bishop cannot be self-willed". That means that he can't have it his way: he's got to be willing to sacrifice his will and do it God's way.
2 Peter 2:10, it doesn't describe a leader in the church: it describes a false teacher. And the world is filled with them right now. And here's what it says is a characteristic of false teachers, they are self-willed. They're the kind of people that have "I" trouble. The way I see it, the way I feel it, the way I want it, the way that I want to do it. They're not willing to sacrifice themselves to do God's will. You need to know that unity is not possible as long as your preference is priority over your purpose. And right now, the body of Christ is divided by its preferences. We allow our preferences to tell us whether or not we enjoy church.
"Well I didn't like the songs that they sang down there today". The preference has taken priority. "I didn't like the way that they greeted me when I came through the door. I only like one hand shake. They had six. I felt like I was playing for the spurs". All of these things get in the way because we've allowed our preferences to take priority over our purpose. Our purpose, when we come to church, is to gather in his name, to lift up his son, to read his word, to worship in his presence. It doesn't have anything to do with your preference: it has to do with our purpose to spend time with him!
Psalm 133 says, "Behold, how blessed and good it is for brethren to dwell together in unity: for there", say that with me, "For there". Say it again. "For there the Lord commands a blessing". He doesn't request a blessing: he commands a blessing, which means where there is unity, you can't help but have God's blessings. If I stood in this pulpit this morning, and I said, "Today I want to talk to you about the guaranteed blessings of God," people would say, "Oh, praise Jesus: pour it out". But the second you say, "The guaranteed blessings of God come when you sacrifice your will for unity," people go, "What's in his taco"?
Unity is where God commands a blessing. Unity is what poured out the anointing that brought 3.000 on the day of Pentecost. Unity is what brought the power of God into the rooms where they prayed until the walls shook. Unity is what made the lame to leap. Unity is what made the world to turn upside down. Unity is what brings God's power, and God's blessings, and God's authority, in every area of your life. It's not that God doesn't want to bless you. It's not that God can't bless you. It's that we won't let him bless us until we are willing to sacrifice our will to accomplish his will. The truth about unity is that unity requires real work. It requires blood, sweat and tears. Paul said, "I die daily". Say that with me. "I die daily".
What was it that Paul was so busy dying with every day? His will. He knew that he had to sacrifice it every day if he was going to walk in unity. Think of how many families, think of how many businesses, think of how many workplaces, think of how many schools and ministries waste energy and precious hours struggling with the strife of division, how much time they invest in reconciling things that should not even be a part, because people don't want to walk in unity. How many businesses do not have God's blessings because they do not walk in unity? How many people go to work every day and they do not have God's blessings on their work, because they do not work with a self-sacrificed mind? Lord, whatever I'm asked to do today, I'm going to do it with all of my might, because I'm not working for the company: I'm working for you.
When you read the Bible, the Bible tells us in the Book of Proverbs that there's seven things that God hates. And each and every one of the seven things that he hates are things that come against walking together in unity. The first thing he hates is a proud look. You cannot walk in unity as long as you're prideful. The second thing he hates is a lying tongue. Lies are sources of division. Hands that shed innocent blood, it separates life: it does not connect it. Hearts that devise wicked plans. Wicked plans tear away at unity. Feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who speak lies, and the last thing that the Bible says God hates is anyone who sows discord among the brethren. Think about that.
When you sit down and you talk to other brothers and sisters in faith, and you're trash talking other children of God, God looks at that and says, "I hate it". Why? Not because it's spiritual, not because it's a prayer request, but because you are bringing discord between the brethren. He wants us together. You know who wants us apart? The devil himself. As much as God hates discord, it's the devil's playground. He loves division. He lives for division. He doesn't care if you come to church on Sunday, and you amen, and you applaud, and you raise your hands, and you praise. He just wants to make sure that when you leave, you go home fighting the same fight you had with your spouse before you got here. He doesn't care if you come and you ask for God's blessings. He just wants to make sure that you don't have enough faith to unify your heart, soul, mind, and body to believe that those blessings are yours.
He wants you to doubt what the Word of God says, because if you doubt, you're double minded. If you're double minded, you don't receive a thing. Sit here and listen all you want. As long as he can divide you, then he wins. But if we ever unite, if we ever get together, if we ever decide that God, it's not my will, it's not my way: it's your way, there isn't anything that the enemy can do about it. You need to know that the enemy is indeed a defeated foe. He has been defeated from the very beginning. You and I have the authority of God's word. We have the authority of his blood. We have the power to pull down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. I want to close by showing you what it means to pull down high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
You see the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4 that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty, say that with me. "They are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God". Now this verse has to do with supernatural warfare. But the thing about supernatural warfare, as much as we want to make it all about things happening in heaven: most of the supernatural battles you're ever going to fight in your life, you're going to fight between your ears. "Every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God". How many of you have ever known better: you just didn't do better? You see you had knowledge that you didn't apply. Why? Because you didn't win the battle of the mind. And that's what the devil wants to divide. He wants to divide your mind, because the Bible says, "A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways".
Willy NY, come here, sir. Don't worry: I know this man. He's semipro. Don't try this at home. No. Here comes Willy. Willy, I'm going to invite this congregation to visit your mind. Here we see open-minded Willy NY. He's willing to hear, he's willing to receive, he's willing to see anything that God would say to him. He comes to church and he's expecting to receive a word from the Lord. And suddenly the preacher stands up and the preacher says, "Give and it shall be given unto you". And the devil says, "You know that preacher, he's full of greed. All he wants is your money. That's your money, Willy. God didn't do anything to give it to you. Keep it in your pocket. I know that the Holy Spirit is asking you to give, but sit on it, Willy. I promise you: you'll do more with it all by yourself than God could ever before".
And suddenly when it comes to prosperity and blessings, there's a high thing that's exalted in Willy's mind, and he's closed off to the topic of receiving from God. Then a couple of days later, Willy's on his way home. And he's late for dinner, and his wife has cooked a nice meal, and he's already thinking to himself she's going to be mad when I get in the door. She'll never understand how the boss made me stay late. Huh. Let's see what happens. He goes home. She says, "Where have you been"? He says, "Don't talk to me like that! Stop acting like your mother"! And the next thing you know, Willy's got a whole high thing that's exalted itself against the peace of his family, because rather than dwell with understanding, he's allowed doubt and division to divide another part of his life.
Then he goes back to work and he's still upset about what the boss did wherever he made him late for dinner. And all of a sudden the boss says, "Willy, I want to ask you some questions. Can you join me for a meeting"? And Willy goes into the meeting with a bad attitude. And he decides that whatever he does, he's not going to do it for the glory of the Lord. And now he's shut off from receiving blessings at work. How many of you see that Willy's all of a sudden got a pretty closed mind? And the next Sunday he comes back to church. And when he comes back to church, the guy in the parking lot didn't smile and wave like he should have. And the greeters didn't shake like they should have. And the ushers didn't ush like they should have. And the same devil that started whispering in Willy's ear about not giving, and not being patient, and not being kind is the same devil that says, "You see, Willy: it's just me and you. Nobody understands you, Willy. You're all alone in this dark world. Nobody cares. Nobody loves. Nobody understands. You're all by yourself".
Now how many of you know believers, Jesus followers, that have allowed the devil to extend high things in their mind that have closed them off to anything and everything God wants them to have? You see my prayer is God, make us one. Let us use the things of God that have been ordained, his word, his blood, his truth, to pull down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. When we read in his word that he will give them perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, let us take that perfect peace and pull down anything that separates us from the peace of God. When it says that the joy of the Lord is our strength, let the joy of the Lord so explode in our lives that suddenly we have joy that is unspeakable that makes rich and is full of glory. When it says, "I've never seen the righteous forsaken," let us believe that we can prosper.
Go ahead, Willy, get in on this son: it's fun. I assure you whenever it says that you can be set free, "For whom the son sets free is free indeed," use that word to pull down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God! Church, we have the power! We have the authority! We have the Spirit of God within us! Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered! Remain standing. This topic of unity is endless in what it can accomplish in your life. It is where God commands a blessing. It is where breakthrough comes from. It is where peace, and joy, and power, and prosperity, are poured out. But for all that unity creates and brings, it is powerless until you are willing to be unified. You cannot join with others until you are willing to sacrifice of yourself. And when Jesus prayed for us, the one thing he asked God that we be, one, unified, together, so that God's power and his might can be ours. I want you to raise your hand and repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, make us one today, one in our family, one in our church, one in the kingdom: that we would compliment one another and not compete with each other: that we would pull down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ: and that your spirit, and your power, and your might, would be poured out upon your children, in Jesus' name. Amen.