Tuesday, February 19, 2013

“A Revival of Oneness” by Garris Elkins

Some of us wait for the miracles to fall before we think a revival can begin.  Others are waiting for a cultural icon to come to Christ to set off a line of spiritual dominos falling towards a massive move of God’s Spirit. Jesus had another plan – he said the world would believe his message when the Church lived as one and walked in unity.

During the Last Supper recorded in John’s Gospel, Jesus began to pray right in the middle of dinner.  It would be like one of us having dinner at a friend’s house and we simply began praying at the table.  Everyone watched and listened as Jesus prayed to the Father.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17: 20-21
Jesus was laying before the disciples a truth about spiritual relationships. Spiritual relationships in God’s Kingdom are never more than one.  A single, unmarried person is one.  Two single people become one when married. There is only one Church on planet earth. Jesus said that he and the Father were one.  In his prayer 2,000 years ago, Jesus was describing the Church of today, “for all that would ever believe”, the reality of a spiritual union with him.
There was a driving reason behind Jesus praying for our oneness.  He said, “so that the world will believe you sent me.”  I have become so familiar with this text over the years that I missed what Jesus was really saying.  He knew the moving of the Spirit upon the earth to release a great harvest of souls would take place when the world could see our oneness instead of our division. This oneness would validate the message we would preach in his name.
Jesus continued his prayer in verse 22:
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”
Jesus gave the first disciples his glory to accomplish the task of oneness.  The glory is where the miracles take place.  Signs, wonders and miracles fall into this world surrounded by the glory of God.  Glory is the substance of God’s presence. The word for glory in the original language is a word that describes weight. There is a substance and weight to God’s glory.  The early disciples would carry this glory in their oneness with each other as they walked the streets of the cities in the Middle East. This glory surrounded their lives and released the supernatural works of God while they continued to walk in oneness with each other.
We are waiting for revival to come. Some are looking for the next move of God to fall so they can join in.  I find nothing wrong with any of those desires, but the greater reality is we already possess the key for revival and that key is oneness.  I believe where groups of believers make the hard choice to live in oneness with each other, those places will become ground zero for a move of God ushering in the immense harvest of souls God has planned.
When I was a police officer, I was assigned to a detail that dealt with what we today call domestic terrorists. Some of these terrorist groups fabricated emergency 911 calls to lure unsuspecting police officers into the trap of an ambush where members of these groups would open fire on the responding police officers.
When the police officers came under fire, some made the fatal mistake of stopping their vehicle and attempting to fight their way out of the ambush.  Other officers were killed when they tried to back up and flee the firefight in reverse.  During that time our police tactics were reviewed and we found the only real chance for survival was to accelerate our police vehicle and drive through the ambush.   Some officers followed this new tactic and lived.  Others tried to stand and fight in the ambush and they died.
One of the greatest hindrances to God moving in revival power is when we take up an offense against another person. When we pick up an offense and hold on to it, we become a divided and weakened Church.
The forces of hell are masters at laying an ambush in our path. These spiritual terrorists know just what buttons to push in us that will cause the greatest pain and reaction. They want us to try to fight our way through the ambush by making a personal defense or by backing up into our past and justifying ourselves or trying to get someone to respond to us differently. 
An offense is something we have to actually pick up. It is like picking up a box.  We must grasp it to carry it.  You and I will experience an offense somewhere along the way.  Someone will say something or do something to us that will hurt us.  These painful experiences are never personal even though they feel very personal.  The person offending us is simply responding to us from a broken place in their life and we end up taking a hit.
If you have taken up an offense against another person you are carrying something that will actually hurt your development as a follower of Jesus.  Even more important, the unresolved offense you willfully carry will inhibit belief in the lives of those who do not yet know Christ.  It is time to make an exchange.
When we said yes to the invitation of salvation from Jesus we exchanged our unrighteousness for his righteousness.  Our relationship with Jesus began with an exchange. For the rest of our lives, following that initial exchange, we will be invited to future exchanges of unrighteous thoughts and actions.  We will be asked to exchange our mourning for dancing.  We will be asked to exchange our weeping for joy.  We will be asked to exchange lies for truth. Without a life that includes exchanging death for life we will become victims to the ambush plans of hell whose desire it is to create an ineffective witness in the Church to the unbelieving world.
This exchanging of an offense is not an easy thing to do.  We want those who caused us pain to feel our pain.  We have been trained by broken families and friends that we need to wait for the other person to make things right. Oneness doesn’t wait.  Jesus didn’t wait for us. He came to us.  Oneness goes to the other person, no matter who is at fault, and tries to correct the wrong.  The salvation of the world is at stake.
When we go to someone who has offended us we don’t go trying to fix them.  We go to simply say, “When you said that about me, I was deeply hurt.  I have been carrying an offense against you.  Please forgive me.  I want to restore the oneness between us that Jesus desired for us to have.”  Those words are spoken when we make the exchange.  We lay down our offense and we pick up freedom.
The act of laying down our offenses and restoring oneness to the Body of Christ is one of the highest forms of spiritual warfare. When we choose to lay down an offense we are dismantling the ambush plans of darkness.  We survive these ambushes by accelerating through them in humility. This is a war against some of the most powerful demons in the devil’s terrorist force. 
Ask yourself, “Am I carrying an offense against another person?”  If you are, identity the offense and own the fact that you have picked up something Jesus never intended you to carry.  Confess your offense to the Lord, exchange the bitterness, unforgiveness and resentment for mercy and love, and accelerate through the waiting ambush into a season of revival.

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