Trinity in Unity- Matthew 13, Ephesians 4:3-6
Trinity Unity in Church Ephesians 4:3-6; Matthew 13:24-30; 47-52 6/11/17
Baptism of Sloan Carolyn Gilliam and Children Sermon 6-11-17
For a video of the sermon, click here
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of them all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull the weeds up? No, he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds up , you may uproot the wheat with them.”(Matthew 13)
Today is Trinity Sunday- the Sunday after Pentecost. So I want us to think about the Unity in the Trinity.
Ephesians tells us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
I have in my hand an app that will play a digitally perfect A note. I can tune my guitar to it. One hundred pianos all tuned to this same note are automatically tuned to each other. They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other. We are a consumer culture, but there is not much unity or love in a culture that asks, “What’s the best deal for me” instead of “how may I sacrifice for love of God and neighbor.” When we put our own health and welfare as the value of all things, it leads to disunity and downplays family, loyalty, perseverance, and duty.
Paul calls us to a different way of life. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Unfortunately, as churches, we have to admit we have become so consumer conscious that we fail to do this. Divisions in churches have been there from the beginning, but it is particularly prevalent in the last fifty years. Since World War 1 the Presbyterian Church has gone from two major denominations to two dozen. Our own church here has seen its share of arguing and debate and two major divisions. This despite what Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian Church said, “Among Christians there ought to be so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so fast as lies in their power. “But this is not just a church problem. The church unfortunately reflects the world around it. Families have broken up at record pace. Not just marriages- but children rebelling against parents and parents neglecting or leaving children. Brothers and sisters not talking. Paul says to us as plain as day that there is one God- one body- one Spirit, one hope one baptism- so quit trying to tear things apart. Jesus sacrificed to keep his disciples together. He indicated he knew long before that one of his disciples would betray him. But he kept Judas to the end- though doubtless Judas did not believe, Judas did not teach what was right, Judas- John says- was actually stealing from their money. Jesus kept Judas- even at the cost of his own sacrifice. I believe it is in part to show us that unity is important.
Jesus says this clearly in two different parables found in Matthew 13. One is the parable of the weeds and tares, and the other the parable of the nets. Jesus and all of scripture calls us to leave consumerism behind to choose love instead. Paul says in another place- “Consider others’ needs as more important than your own.” Love is not self-seeking. Love is a call for us to get outside of ourselves. Jan Overstreet often told the story of a shipwrecked man on an island- Robinson Crusoe-like all alone. A ship finally came to rescue him. He was asked by a ship’s mate- what is that building- “It is my church.” What’s that building on the other side of the island? That’s the church I used to belong to until I didn’t get along with who went there.” Sometimes we are our own problem for disunity and discontent.
One parable is about the farmer who has both weeds and crops. It’s perfect timing for anyone who has a garden. If you have a garden you know there are some weeds that are right in the row whose roots are twisted in with the plant you are trying to grow. They are a cancer, a parasite that suck the energy and growth out of the plant. But like some cancers, you just can’t operate and things will automatically be better. We often want to just cut the bad out- run away- fly away from all the bad- but that is not always possible. For one thing, no matter how good a Christian you are- no one acts perfectly or believes perfectly. There is a bit of the cancer of sin in all of us- and that should keep us humble. But it should also keep us from thinking that if we just remove ourselves from others we will have the perfect church or the pure church- it doesn’t happen. There is no such thing as the perfect church. We all stand in need of an abundance of God’s love, mercy, and grace. It is not up to us to pull the weeds out- or we may end up pulling ourselves out too! We are not the gardener. It is not up to us to tend and control the church. We are but stewards- trying hard to listen to the owner.
The second parable re-emphasizes the point. It is the parable of the nets. Another timely summertime story around Lake Murray- though not too many use nets to catch fish around here. THE DNR regulations say, “The boat, motor, fishing gear and fish of any person who is charged with unlawfully fishing, using or having in possession a gill net or hoop net on any freshwater lake or reservoir shall be confiscated.” So we don’t use nets much on Lake Murray. But on the Sea of Galilee- which is roughly the same size as Lake Murray- People still use nets today. When you bring up a net- think like a net coming off a shrimp or fishing boat off the coast- you get all kinds of things in it- empty beer cans, tires, fish you can’t eat (mullet, frogfish, urchins, jellyfish) along with crabs and shrimp and fish that are good to eat. You cannot sort the good from the bad while you are dragging the net in. That would be impossible- and if you could you run a risk of tearing the net and losing all the fish. When we try to divide people into good or bad we always fail and run the risk of scaring people off. As I have said many times- and I say it to our new members- our church has had two splits- and we do not want to go through that again if at all possible. For every person that left- another was disillusioned and basically quit church. It is our intention to work hard at loving each other and staying together despite doctrinal differences and emphases. It is also our intention to be a good fish! So there is a need to balance loving one another- we need each other- we need love. And the other side is we need to seek to listen to God with a hard listening ear. God speaks in creation and providence vaguely, but the wisdom of the ages- and the teaching of Christ- we believe in faith- comes from Holy Scripture. Love and pleasing God must balance out. A harsh holiness without love doesn’t work. Love is a key component- loving neighbor. But loving neighbor without loving God and listening to Him would be a problem.
The Trinity is an image of both love and respect. The Father is different from the Son who is different from the Holy Spirit. They are separate- yet there is a deep oneness and love there. Love is found in Godself. The Spirit does not contradict what Jesus said and did- the Father does not go against the Spirit and Son- and Jesus is not in enmity, animosity or rebellion toward the Father and Spirit. They are one yet different. That is our calling. It is okay to be, think differently. But let’s love one another. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. There are not different kinds of baptism. Once we have been baptized we cannot be unbaptized because it is God not us who does the real work of baptism. There is only one God- and only one baptism. Let us live in and for the oneness we have in Christ.