That They May Be One - John 17:20-26

These final words of Jesus’ high priestly prayer are directly for you and me. Here he prays for “those who will believe” through the testimony of his original disciples. In other words, all future believers. This is the only time in the gospels that Jesus prays directly for future believers and his focus is on one thing only: unity.

Three times in these 7 verses, Jesus petitions God that we will “be one.” So, how do you think we Christians across the globe are doing at that? Often the criticism I hear of the Church by non-believers is that Christians don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world. They’re just as divided and divisive as anyone else. And yet, unity is what Jesus prayed for us over and above any of the other subjects he could have selected.

So, why unity? Why is this topic of such importance to Jesus? According to Jesus in these verses, there is a direct correlation between our unity and our witness of God’s character to a lost world. He says very similar things twice: In verse 21, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe.” And in verse 23, “That they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved the even as you loved me.”

Our unity is important for a lost world to see because our unity reflects the unity within the Trinity. Our unity is important because it is through our unity together with God that the world will see that he loves them. The glory of God’s unity in the Trinity is dimmed when we are not united. The greater our disunity, the more the light of God’s love is dimmed to the world.

Unity within the Church ought to be of utmost importance to us. Yet how are we to pursue unity when there’s so much to be divided about? Jesus answers this question for us as well. Jesus prays “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” The basis of our unity with other believers isn’t to be 100% agreement over every doctrinal or cultural issue on the table. That’s an impossible ideal that didn’t even exist in the early church (see Acts 15), and likely won’t be resolved until Jesus returns. Instead our unity with other believers it is to be based on our connection with the person of Jesus. Jesus is the uniting factor. All other concerns are secondary. If we are in Christ as Christ is in Father, we have a foundation for unity.

So, in a culture that wants to divide people into the smallest possible groups based on the smallest factors of division, we can live counterculturally in the way of Jesus by emphasizing what unites us (the person of Jesus!) rather than our differences. When we do this, people will see the love of God shine through in ways that leads to belief in the Jesus we’re so united over.

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Please pray for wisdom and safety for us as we travel, and pray that God would move in a powerful way - that He would give us courage to share the love and message of Jesus boldly, and that He would draw many people to Himself!

June Missions Outreach planned:

o   June 7-14: Battle Mtn., Nevada – Early June – City wide

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