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. – John 17:23
Many have marvelled over this priestly prayer that our Lord uttered. It is the longest recorded prayer that Jesus left us with and it shows the very heart of God in it. If you could think of all the things that could be prayed during the last days of Jesus being on this earth we could think of many things. Yet our Lord had in his heart this one important topic: Unity. And not just unity in general but ‘complete unity’ a unity that is perfect and full. The prayer is not for boldness or perfect speech and unction but rather great unity. In the fanfare of excitement in certain christian circles we can be seeking power, outward displays and not realize that a unity with other brothers and sisters is the foundation for our witness to the world. Though false teachers were exposed such as Judas, yet our Lord’s call was for united purpose in being his Disciples and sharing the Good News. Our unity is not found in our preferences, styles or exact thinking but rather it is found in the person of the Godhead. Our knowing and partaking (2 Peter 1:4) of the Son of God is where our unity meets with other believers. We are formed together as one body, through one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Seeking after unity should not been seen as compromise but a desire to share in the true heart of God for his Church. We do not unify with those who are practicing falsehood and sin but we should not shun unity with those who do not exactly think and act like our style of Church. God looks past much of the differences we look at and see’s the heart and worship in bodies of believers.
Tertullian says, “We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force.” Early believers were united by purpose, hope, godly disciplines, prayer and confession. In our day of individualism and striving to be unique and heard God’s people need to recapture the sense of unity of the Church where all are a part of its purpose and mission. When Jesus ascended he did not desire all the Apostles to start their own Churches and ideas but his prayer was for great unity that no matter what happened they would stay unified. When we lose the reverence for God and his working we easily break fellowship, create dis-unity and seek our own way s better. When we lose the fear of God we question godly ministers, ministries and Church works that have been established and blessed by God for many years. The spirit of independence questions everything and sets one up as the authority rather then submitting to authority. The way of unity with believers in the body of Christ is the way of submission, humility and christ-likeness. Hear our Lord’s prayer again for you today, he prays that you are unified with others in the body of Christ. See our Lord looking at you from the right hand of God, he accepts you, will you not accept others in the body of Christ. He gave His own life for you, will you not open yourself up to others and be unified as the Church?
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon