“Why do we insist on dividing?” asked the Rev. David Anderson at the 9:15 a.m. Monday Ecumenical Service in the Amphitheater. “We are not being divided, we are insisting on dividing.”
His sermon title was “The Power of ‘Agreement,’ ” and the Scripture text was Matthew 18:19-20.
Anderson opened his sermon with a story about a man marooned on a desert island. Since there was little hope of rescue, he taught himself how to eat, built a shelter to live in and built a chapel.
Several years later, the island was discovered by a passing ship. As the man packed to leave, the people on the ship asked, “You were living here alone. Why do you have two chapels, one across the road from the other?” The man answered, “We had a church split.”
“In John 15, Jesus prays that the disciples will be one,” Anderson said. “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. So why do we insist on dividing? The answer to the prayer of Jesus is our coming together on Earth as it is in heaven.”
In the Book of Revelation, John saw every nation and tribe represented, Anderson said, yet human beings insist on separation, segregation and division.
“What is the power of agreement?” Anderson asked. “It is the power to overcome exclusion, separation and segregation.”
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1, appealed to the Corinthians to all be in agreement and have no divisions.
“Repeat after me: all of you agree,” Anderson said to the congregation. The congregation responded.
“Repeat after me: no divisions among you,” he said to the congregation. The congregation responded.
“Agreement is the pathway to alignment,” he said. “We must adjust our mindset to get to agreement. Paul gives us the path in Corinthians.”
But who must agree? Anderson asked.
“All of you,” he said. “How do you agree? In what you say. What you want to happen is to have no divisions, to be perfectly united. Where this unity occurs is in your hearts and minds.”
In Matthew 16, Jesus tells Peter he will be the rock on which the church will be built, and he will have the keys to the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the disciples that when two or three of them are in agreement, he will be there.
“Jesus knew the disciples would have conflicts, but he gave them a Godly approach to address it,” Anderson said. “Spiritual power comes when we come together in agreement through the spiritual realm. Jesus will show up and sign that contract because people have come together in his name.”
And how do we get to agreement? Anderson asked the congregation.
“My answer is prayer,” he said.
Anderson meets with a council of elders at 6 a.m. weekly.
“There is no voting; you can’t vote on the will of God,” he said. “We ask for the voice of God. We don’t move on anything if we can’t come to consensus. Through prayer revelation comes discernment, comes wisdom, comes repentance.”
Sometimes, Anderson told the congregation, disagreement has a lot to do with one’s own issues.
“Through prayer, I see the issue sometimes is me,” he said. “Our disagreements are sometimes about ‘me-ology’ and not always theology. There is so much to disagree about, no wonder you can have a church split on a private island.”
To gain perspective and seek repentance, people need to be in the Spirit first, like his elders council, then see how their minds and thoughts have come together. Then what the mouth has to say should follow.
“The problem is that we usually start with the mouth, then the mind and thoughts, and then we will pray if nothing else works,” Anderson said. “If we come together in the Spirit, Jesus will reveal the mindset and help us with our mouths.”
Jesus’ presence comes in prayer, and the purpose of the agreement is not just for our own connections, Anderson said.
“It is for conquering the enemy, so the gates of Hell will not prevail,” he said. “If the Evil One can get the church to divide, it will not have the power to fulfill its purpose, which is to build the church. The purpose of agreement is victory.”
The church will have unity, but it also has to have victory, Anderson said.
“We can change the world if we just learn how to come together,” he said. “We can start by praying together.”
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, vice president of religion and senior pastor, presided. Anna Grace Glaize, the Christian coordinator for the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, read the Scriptures. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the Motet Choir. The choir sang “Christ the Appletree,” by Stanford Scriven. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy and the Jackson-Carnahan Memorial Chaplaincy provide support for this week’s services.