Tim Keller | May 21, 2017
John 17 is the “great prayer” of Jesus. In this message, we will look at Jesus’s prayer for the Church— the disciples in the room with him, but also his future disciples. We are going to look at what Jesus says about the church and what it ought to be— and what we as Christians ought to be.
We will notice four things about the church: 1) It’s crucial; 2) It’s countercultural; 3) It’s inexplicably attractive; and 4) It’s the company of the forgiven.
Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and the church offers profound insights. It underscores the importance of believers, both past and future, and outlines the ideal characteristics of the church. As Christians, it’s crucial to heed these teachings and aspire to embody the church as Jesus envisioned.
1. The church is crucial
The church holds a significant place in Jesus’ heart, as evidenced by his extensive prayers for it. It stands as a countercultural entity, promoting unity among believers despite worldly influences, and possesses an irresistible allure, reflecting the unity and truth of Jesus and the Father. The church, as a community of the forgiven, is tasked with disseminating truth, exemplifying love, and transforming lives, making participation in a local church essential for those who follow Jesus.
2. The church is countercultural
The Church’s distinctiveness from the world is crucial, as Christians are God’s possession, not their own, challenging the modern Western notion of self-ownership and moral autonomy. The Western concept of self-ownership is flawed, even on a human level, and contrasts with the Christian perspective on money, ownership, and sex as a self-giving act, rather than a tool for personal fulfillment. Christianity offers a unique cultural perspective, stressing belonging to God over self or family, and accentuates the necessity for Christians to diverge from societal norms.
3. The church is attractive
The Church should embody a compelling counterculture, reflecting the power and glory of Jesus Christ in a way that transcends human comprehension. Christians should strive to be more than just admirable, embodying an inexplicable quality that mirrors the early Apostles’ ability to lead and communicate despite their lack of formal education. Like burning bushes that defy categorization, Christians should live lives that cannot be easily explained, yet unmistakably glorify Jesus.
4. The church is the company of the forgiven
The church ought to exude an irresistible allure to the world, a charm that is difficult to articulate, as suggested by Lloyd Jones. This allure stems from the church being a community of the forgiven, demonstrating the same grace and patience they have received from Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice for sin. By living out this sacrificial love and forgiveness, the church becomes a beacon of inexplicable attraction, particularly in urban environments like New York.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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