The Ultimate Hindrance to Our Church’s Mission

I came across this challenging quote in my study of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John’s Gospel. What do you think of John Milne’s comment on John 17:21 and 23?

“The biggest barriers to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus are not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness.”

Why not use the above to assess your own life and the quality of your relationships with others in the body of Christ?

The Biggest Barrier to Reaching People with the Gospel

John Milne, in his commentary on John’s Gospel, writes:

“The biggest barrier to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus is not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness. These are the squalid enemies of effective evangelism which render the gospel fruitless and send countless thousands into eternity without a Savior.”

Let us pray that we would love one another well and, thus, see people come to vibrant faith in Jesus.

Reflections on What Jesus Desires for His Church

 

The prayer in John 17 is Jesus’ longest prayer recorded in Scripture. In it, Jesus reveals his priorities for His people and what he was most passionate about for us prior to His death for our sins. Christ does not pray that his disciples might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from evil, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven.

– Adapted from Matthew Henry 

Every time we gather together we either strengthen or weaken the evangelistic appeal of our church by the quality of our relationships with our fellow church members. The biggest barriers to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus are not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness.
These are the squalid enemies of effective evangelism which render the gospel fruitless and send countless thousands into eternity without a Savior.

John Milne

Although individual Christians, and the church in general, tend to fall short of the fullness of unity that the Lord intends, whenever such unity is even partially realized the result will always be deep joy, a persuasive witness to the world, and a display of God’s glory.

 

The Purpose of Jesus’ Prayer in John 17

Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 serves as a pattern of His intercession that He carries on for us in heaven now. It also serves as an example for our own prayer life. In a nutshell, what Christ asks for us, we should ask for ourselves.

“Jesus here shows teachers an example, that they should not only occupy themselves in sowing the Word, but, by mixing their prayers with it, should implore God’s help that his blessing should make their work fruitful.” – John Calvin

“It is in prayer, costly, sustained, and prevailing, that the Word of God is released through teaching and preaching. Prayer is the price of power, and the church of Jesus Christ is not likely to recover its lost authority until this basic biblical truth is recovered.” – John Milne’s commentary on John 17