Tuesday, May 17, 2016
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I had just finished speaking for a Christian leaders' gathering that was part of the countdown to a Franklin Graham Festival. The setup team there was in their early days of working together on this massive mobilization. The team leader thought it would be a good idea to get his team together for a few minutes after the meeting ended, and he invited me to join them. Then he handed me a cluster of helium balloons tied together. Suddenly, I felt like I'd gone from speaker to circus clown. And, you know, I've read Winnie the Pooh stories to our kids enough that I couldn't help but picture Pooh Bear being carried into the sky by a bunch of balloons like that.
Well, in spite of my trivial imaginings, the team leader had a holy purpose for having me stand there with those balloons. He asked his team members to spread out around the room. They ended up widely separated. He asked them to get as close to me and my balloons as they could. Within moments, those workers, who had been so scattered, were shoulder-to-shoulder in a clump around me and my balloons.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Bring People Together."
That morning the team leader actually made a powerful point. He said, "You guys notice this, that the closer each of you got to Ron, the closer you got to each other?" He said, "The more we focus on Jesus and lift up His cross, the closer we will get to each other." We didn't have a cross in the room, and I think the balloons were a strange but available substitute for me to hold up, but the point was made.
And that point reaches to where you are right now in your family, your church, your ministry, your community. The closer each person on your team gets to Jesus and what He did on the cross for us, the closer those people are going to get to each other. It's focusing on lesser things; titles, personal agendas, hard feelings, little issues, comparing with another person, the things we disagree on – that's what makes any group of people distant, divided and very easy for our enemy to defeat.
The 133rd Psalm says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity...for there the Lord bestows His blessing." There's a helpful picture of how the right focus can bring people together in our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 2, beginning with verse 42. It actually shows us the lifestyle of the original Christians; possibly the most powerful people in history. It says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Celebrating Jesus' death together in Communion, talking to Him together, learning about Him together – that's what they were doing. So it says, "So all the believers were together and had everything in common. They continued to meet together, and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Imagine people coming to Christ every day! When's the last time you saw that? But then, when's the last time you saw God's people setting aside their differences and coming together consistently around Jesus and His cross?
If someone's depending on the same Savior for their eternity, if they've been to the same cross to be forgiven, isn't that enough to at least pray together, if nothing else? If you want, you can focus on the 90% that we agree on or you can focus on the 10% we disagree on. We can focus 90% of our energy on the 10% that makes "our group" our group. Or we can focus on our magnificent Savior and the magnet that is His cross.
When we realize that He has left us here to draw a world of lost people to that cross, we realize we can rescue far more people together than we ever could apart. Remember, Jesus said, "When I am lifted up...I will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:32). Jesus and His cross – they're the magnet that pulls His people together and pulls lost people to Him. Isn't it time we made that our focus instead of whatever has kept us in separate parts of the room? Because the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we get to His cross, the closer we're going to get to each other.