Our friend, Pastor Chris Chase, lead pastor at The Meeting House, Newmarket, will join us for the concluding message celebrating Black History Month at Tyndale.
Chris writes, “Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-26 is one filled with a desire for unity among believers with an eye on those yet to know the love of God. Our unity is a witness to the world and is worth protecting. But we can't be unified unless we see ourselves in Jesus' story and see each other in the same light."
Along with pastoring, Chris is a husband and father of two. His heart is to see people discover God’s love, delve into God’s Word, and live out God’s plan for their lives. When not with his family or serving at his church, Chris is a member and host of “The House of Common Show”, a YouTube Show/podcast with nine of his friends, where they speak on various issues as black Christian men.
Hey Tyndale family, it's so great to be able to be with you today for your Chapel service, recognizing that at any other time in our history, we would be in person together, we would have sung songs together, we would have enjoyed the breaking of bread together, we would have enjoyed the hearing and the teaching and the receiving and living out of God's word together. And we are doing that together, except we're just doing it a little differently.
You've probably heard every speaker of this year, express themselves and introduce themselves with the exact same way. So much for originality. And recognizing also that this is a really important month in our world, in North America, as we're celebrating Black History Month. Recognizing the last 12 months that has been the world that we've lived in, and the amount of strife that has been among us as humanity, whether we're social, political, racial, or two people arguing in a Walmart parking lot over whether something is or isn't a hoax. And yet in the midst of this, we have these great opportunities like these to come together, to open up God's word, to see what it says, and to see what Jesus is speaking to us through His Holy Spirit, that we can live out in the world that we are in. And so for the short time I have, I want to share a little bit about my story, and share how somehow in this crazy mind of God, I get to be a part of sharing and being in his story.
Back end of the book of John, we see Jesus, John chapter 17, He's praying. You know the story, I would imagine that you would know, well, Jesus, He is a couple of hours away from being crucified for your sins and for mine. He is a couple of hours away from being betrayed by his friends, being arrested, all of that leading towards Cross. And the midst of this, John 17 shows us, Jesus, our Saviour, our Lord, praying. And you look at John chapter 17, starting in verse 20, He prays for, for us. He says this, "my prayer is not also for them alone, them alone being his disciples, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that they may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us that the world may believe that you have sent me I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them, and you in me. So that they may be brought to complete unity, then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me, because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me, may be in them, and I myself may be in them."
It's crazy, cuz I read the story, and I see me. Maybe that sounds prideful. Maybe that sounds egotistical. But I see me, in the midst of this prayer, in the midst of this invitation. I say that because there's certain times where, at least in our world of evangelical Christendom, I don't often see me. It's hard to explain. There's not a lot of people that look like me. And by look like me, I mean, that dreadheaded guy with a toque and with glasses. I know you know that I'm being facetious, but the idea of walking through this world of leadership. Walking through this world as a pastor, knowing that there's not a lot of people who look like me, who understand my background, and who may understand my story. And when you're the outsider, when you're on the outside, often looking in, it often feels like you're not a part of the inside story.
There's a quote by an author, he wrote a book called "Somehow I Manage". His name is Michael Scott. You may have heard of him. He, office manager in a place in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he says this line, he says I love inside jokes. Hoping to be a part of one someday. I feel like a lot of us feel like that. We all want to be in the in crowd, and if we are a little bit different, we feel like we're on the outside looking in. Yet when Jesus prays this prayer, He prays this for all believers. I am included in that prayer. I, a black man born and raised in Montreal, who moved to Peterborough for school, who then pastored in Scarborough, Ontario while living in Ajax, and now lives in Oshawa while pastoring a church in Newmarket, Ontario. I am a part of that prayer, you're a part of that prayer. And here's the crazy thing about what Jesus says in John 17. When we are all in this together, and we recognize that we're all included in this, we are representative of Him. "May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." He says again, verse 23, "I in them in you and me, so they may be brought together and complete unity, then the world will know that you have sent me and have loved them, even as you have loved me."
We live in a day and age where unity seems like a pipe dream. Unity doesn't even seem attainable. Finding common ground, what does that even mean? It is easier to go on Facebook, or Twitter, or some dark parts of the web, and talk about the things that we don't like about each other, as opposed to finding those common grounds. Because when we do as believers, me, being me and you being you, that is a witness to the world, that God loves them, because we're able to get along. When society would say you shouldn't because of your socioeconomic background, or the colour of your skin, or your gender, or whatever else, you want to fill in the blank and the "isms". When we as believers, come together and say we are under the banner of Jesus. When we get to do that, it is a witness to the world, that they are loved by the Creator of the Universe.
We are reminded that God is in us because God loved us by setting His Son to die for us. That's obviously easier said than done. I've had my days where, even in knowing this, I still felt on the outside looking in. And there's a lot to that. There's a lot of DNA in that. There's a lot of negative experience in that. There's a lot of esteem in that. And yet I come back to this and the Holy Spirit brings you back to this time and time again. That Jesus prayed for me. On the eve of his worst day, He prayed for me, that I would never feel, even if society would say, this is where you belong. Even if society would say, even if history would say, this is where you belong. You don't belong in this fraternity. You don't belong in this story. Jesus would say, do you call Me Lord and Saviour? Yes, then you belong. You're a part of the body. You're a part of the witness. You're a part of telling my story. And when you unite with somebody who doesn't look like you, or act like you, but who believes what you believe. Oh, you're unstoppable. Together. "I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. And to see my glory, the glory you've given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." We kind of know how the story ends.
There's this storytelling device, called frame story, where you cut, you start at the end of the story. And you work your way backwards to get back to where you are. You've seen it movies, where the antag, the protagonist will say, "I bet you're wondering how I got here". And then the whole flashbacks of... Jesus is saying, listen, Father, I want them to be with me. We know how the story ends. We've seen this. We've lived outside of time. We've seen this. So let's bring them back to the beginning. This idea that they can be more when they are together than when they are apart. This idea of complete unity. Jesus, he had walked with them. He had seen the disunity among the believers during his time. He knows that there's, there will be disunity now. And yet, it's the Holy Spirit that allows us to have these moments where we can come together. Because when we come together, we reflect his heart. You look at the disciples, as Jesus kind of collects them, we see in the book, a book of Luke, where they're listed in there, all these different people from different backgrounds, different stories, different age, different, different stages of life. Even there at the beginning, Jesus saying, I'm setting a standard, that unity would be the banner. Unity would be the shield by which we walk, so that when people see, if those 12 are finding a way to get along, well, then surely there's got to be something to this. Imagine now in our day and age. All of us, being who we are looking how we look, talking how we talk, yet under the same banner of unity that Christ prayed for, for us, the world would say, well, if they're walking together in humility, if they're walking together in love, they're walking together in truth, and forgiveness, and in grace, in justice, then there's got to be something to this God that they serve. There's got to be something to this Jesus, and my friends, my encouragement to you today, is that you, along with me, because I'm not exempt from this, that we would look at one another, and see what unites us. And be excited about that, as opposed to quickly going online to write about what divides us.
Yeah, there's gonna be things that we don't agree on, we probably dislike, you know, you probably like the hockey team that I don't like, or movie that I don't like, or a song that I don't like, or whatever else. But those are facetious things. Those are things that really don't matter at the end of the world, that for those of you who are really upset about the hockey team comment, It is what it is. But if we spend time talking about what unites us, caring for the Kingdom, proclaiming the Kingdom, walking in step together, walking in step with the Spirit, walking and proclaiming the truths of God, caring for the widow, caring for the poor, caring for the orphan, the things that Jesus cared about. We can worry about how we get there, and how we do it, but if we can start with caring for the same things. Oh, what a witness that will be. I love this picture of Jesus, seeing different ones around and saying, you belong. You belong. You belong. And you belong. He's doing that today for you. And you've been doing it for me, especially on the days where I watch the news, or I see an email, or I see a tweet. And I forget. He says it to me too. And so my encouragement to you today is to remember that you are counted. If you look different, you know what I mean by look different. You're not in the outside looking in. You're actually right in the middle of the story. And if you don't look like me, you're not on the outside looking in. You're right in the middle of the story, too. We're all in there together. And when we are all in it together. There he is.
So all that said, let's pray together. Jesus, we thank you that you love us. You love us so much. We thank you that we are counted and we are seen by you. We are loved by you. And you invite us into this great story. And you implore us, you implore us to be united to see our differences as strengths, to see our differences as things that we can learn from, so that we can be a witness to the world around us. God I pray that the things that the enemy would try to use to divide us, you would remind us that it's those very things that make us unique. It's those very things that you have placed in us to make us who we are, so that we can each reach different people. God I pray for my friends, that we would be united under the common purpose of loving You and loving others. Pray this in Jesus name, amen and amen. Bless you friends.
— End of transcript —