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Trinity Sunday: John 17:20-26

Trinity Sunday   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The church is called to be a persuasive reflection of the love that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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The oneness of the church reflects the oneness of the triune God.

The oneness of the church

Jesus prays for believers to possess a oneness that is modeled after his oneness with the Father.

Jesus has a oneness in purpose and action with the Father:

5:19 - “The Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what he sees his Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”
8:28 - “ When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me
When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me
Elsewhere he speaks of his own actions and works as actions done in the Father’s name and works from the Father.

Jesus has a oneness in being with the Father:

If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Very early on in the history of the Christian faith, our spiritual fathers sought to understand as best they could the unique relationship that seemed to exist between God the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures they are identified as being separate personalities and yet at the same time a single being. And so the relationship that the three persons of the one God has been called the Trinity. The phrase you may have heard is that God is three-in-one. He is triune, a word that means three-in-one.
They say if you speak about the Trinity for more than 10 minutes you start talking heresy. This morning we aren’t going to go into a detailed analysis of what they came to believe and what the Christian church has professed to be true up to this day. There is a creed of the Christian church called the Athanasius Creed that goes into detail about this unique three-in-one relationship among the persons of the Trinity, but our text isn’t interested in that. Jesus is not interested in explaining the Trinity in his prayer for us - and honestly the Bible isn’t all to interested in explaining it either.
They say if you speak about the Trinity for more than 10 minutes you start talking heresy. This morning we aren’t going to go into a detailed analysis of what they came to believe and what the Christian church has professed to be true up to this day. There is a creed of the Christian church called the Athanasius Creed that goes into detail about this unique three-in-one relationship among the persons of the Trinity, but our text isn’t interested in that. Jesus is not interested in explaining the Trinity in his prayer for us - and honestly the Bible isn’t all to interested in explaining it either.
But while we don’t know a whole lot about the relationship that exists between Father, Son, and Spirit, we do know that it is a unified community of love - a perfectly united community of perfect love and selfless service.
And this is important to remember.
What was the Father doing before the creation of our universe? We see in verse 24 that he was loving the Son. The closeness, the intimacy of this relationship is such that Jesus and the Father are said to be one. And the amazing thing is that this is what Jesus is praying that the church would reflect. That we would be one, just as the Son is one with the Father.

The church is called to reflect a oneness of purpose.

Jesus is asking that his disciples, both those before his eyes in the first century and those who gather to worship his name thousands of years later, he is asking that his disciples would reflect the oneness that is found in the triune God. A oneness of purpose and action, and a oneness of being - modeled after the oneness of the triune God.
The body is such a wonderful metaphor for the church. Have you ever fallen asleep with your arm above your head like this? Eventually you wake up and you see this hand in the corner of your vision and your first thought is, “Oh that must be mine.” But then it doesn’t move when you go to move it, because it’s asleep so it’s not cooperating. And then you freak out because strange dismembered arm in your bed!

I believe that the church’s greatest obstacle to being one in purpose and action are sleeping members of the body. Parts of the body that have fallen asleep and stop doing what the body needs them to be doing. Parts of the body that have fallen asleep and have cut themselves off from the purposes of the body. Walking with your leg or foot asleep is difficult, because part of the body is not united in action and purpose.
This is why the body is such a wonderful metaphor for the church. Have you ever fallen asleep with your arm above your head like this? Eventually you wake up and you see this hand in the corner of your vision and your first thought is, “Oh that must be mine.” But then it doesn’t move when you go to move it, because it’s asleep so it’s not cooperating. And then you freak out because strange dismembered arm in your bed!

The love of the church reflects the love of the triune God.

Jesus prays that the church would be inhabited by the love of the Father.

Are there other obstacles to the church experiencing oneness? Of course there is. It’s hard to be one in purpose when we don’t agree on where the goal line is. It’s hard to be one in action when we don’t agree on what is right and what’s wrong. But it’s impossible to be one when sleeping members fail to even show up.

We are called to be one in action and purpose - to live as witnesses to the good news that Jesus is King and his kingdom is one of love, grace, and wholeness. To be that and to do that, we’ve got to wake up to our purpose for being a part of this community.

The church is called to be one in being.

If Jesus and the Father are one in being, how can it be that the church reflect that kind of oneness? The key to understanding this is how Jesus describes his oneness with the Father in this prayer: he speaks of being in the Father and the Father being in him. And he prays that the Father and the Son would be in us. The oneness of being that Jesus is praying for has already come at Pentecost, when the Spirit sent in the Son’s name first made his home in the disciples. Jesus had already said that when the Spirit comes, the Father and the Son would come and make their home in us.
The church, by way of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is one in Christ. Paul says as much in , that the Father through Jesus and by the Spirit (the whole Trinity at work) has brought all the people of the world into one body.

The church’s task is to give authentic expression to the reality of its oneness.

Which brings us to a very important point: God has made the church one. Do we think that the prayer of Jesus has gone unanswered? No! The prayer of Jesus has been made a reality by God - the church is one in purpose and one in being. In no other community on earth can you experience the depth of intimacy, the richness of belonging, the breadth of diversity, and the abundance of love that exists in the community of Jesus.
Our task as the church, then, is not to create this unity, not to create or manufacture this oneness, but rather to give an authentic expression of the reality of what Jesus has already done for us in his death and resurrection, and the sending of the Spirit. Our task is not to reflect something that we’ve made or won or engineered for ourselves, but to reflect the gift of oneness that we have been given by the Triune God.

The Christian life is the participation in the life of the triune God.

Jesus is praying that we would give expression to the oneness of the triune God that we’ve been invited to participate in. And that is what is utterly breathtaking about all of this: the life we share as Christians is nothing less than the participation in the life of the triune God. In verse 23, Jesus prays that the church would be one so that the world would know that the Father loves the church in the same way that the Father loves the Son. When we come into the community of faith we are caught up in the love that the Father has for the Son - a love that he has displayed from before the foundations of the world.
The scandalous grace of the gospel is that the Father loves us, poor and rebellious creatures that we are, that the Father loves us as much as he loves Jesus, the spotless lamb, the Holy One of God. We can be secure, content, and fulfilled because we are loved by the Father with the same love he reserves for the Son. His love has made us whole, his love has made us one.

The church gives expression to the life and love of the triune God so the worl

Evangelism is an act of community.

And we are called to give expression to that unity and that love, so that the world would know that Jesus is King. And when the world comes to know that Jesus is King, they cease to be known as the world, and they become our brother and sister, as they too are caught up into the life and love of the triune God.
We can see, then, that evangelism is an act of community, as the church gives a persuasive expression of the life and love that we share as the beloved of the triune God. According to this prayer, the barriers for effective evangelism are not outdated methods, poor gospel presentations, or cultural divides that are too great, but things like greed, self-centeredness, an unforgiving spirit, bitterness, jealousy, insensitivity, failure to appreciate others, destructive criticism. These things cloud and obscure the gospel made alive in our community. They contradict the oneness and love that is ours in Jesus. No, for the sake of the world around us, we must give expression to the life and love of the triune God that is our’s in Jesus by being a community known for generosity, selflessness, hospitality, forgiveness, openness, humility, encouragement, mercy. These are our evangelistic programs. These are the vehicles in which our convictions are proclaimed.

The challenge of Jesus’ prayer.

The church participates in the life and love of the triune God.

The challenge of Jesus’ prayer is inescapable. The church is called to be a persuasive expression of the life and love of the triune God that is our’s in Jesus. Our oneness is founded upon our relationship with the Father, won for us by the Son, and applied to us through the Spirit. Our lives are enveloped by the triune God, who has invited us to participate in his life of love. And as we do, the world will see and hear about the great love of our God as it is put on display in us.
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