"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
When you look at the body of Christ- the church today, what do you see?
You see many. You see many buildings, many congregations, many styles of worship. Yet it says right here in John 17 that Jesus prayed for us to be one. Maybe not so much one building, because that would be impossible. And maybe not so much one style of worship because there are cultural differences to account for. But one congregation, think about how that would be!
Miriam-Webster has many definitions for the word unity. The first one I like- it's oneness. Which goes right along with what Jesus is praying here. He is praying that we- you and I- the ones who believe in Jesus- will be one, just as Jesus and God are one. Let's really read that for a second! We all know that Jesus and God are one with the Holy Spirit- the three parts of one that doesn't make sense to our human minds, and yet we know that's how it is. So what did Jesus mean when he prayed that? That we who believe in him would be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one.
Maybe He meant a few things. Maybe one of the things He meant was about our spirits all uniting together. Just think about that- think about the possibilities if all followers of Christ realized that we have the same spirit. What if we realized that we weren't actually separate congregations- that we were really all one? What if, instead of all the infighting and the gossip, and the doctrinal debates, we just embraced each other in love?
That's what God is after. He's after a oneness in the body. We are to come together as believers in Christ with the same purposes. We've all heard the analogies about the body of Christ being like a human body- with each part serving a different purpose, yet working together- like an arm and a foot working together. It's a good analogy, but I think we're to go deeper than that actually. We're to go deeper as a body and work together even more because after all- what are body parts? They're all made up of cells aren't they? And on that level, our body parts are even more similar than we could probably imagine.
Think of an army. Think of an army that trains together. Think of the best military movie you've ever seen where a whole platoon trains together to tackle a special mission together. This army goes through their practices over and over and over. They work together, they switch places so that they also know exactly what their neighbor is supposed to be doing. They work together, eat together, sleep together, every single facet is done together so that these people almost know what each other is thinking. And when the time comes to put that army into action, each member has become a part of the whole and they know their part so well they could do it in their sleep. So they do it. The time comes when this platoon is called into action and they perform their duties perfectly, accomplishing their task with precision and experience.
We are the army of God. We are called to join together, to work together for the good of all mankind. We are called to oneness- to become one to defeat the lords of this world and to spread the Glory of God over all the earth. I think this oneness- this unity is they key to sharing God's love with all. People simply don't want that today. They don't want God's love, they don't want to get to know God, because what they see from the outside is the fighting, the bickering, and the church splits over and over. They see the bad, and so they don't want any part of it. What we need to show them is the unity. The love. That God is a God who loves ALL his children, not just some of them.
Jesus shared this oneness while He was here on earth. I think that it's about time for that torch to be taken up and carried high. It's time for the army of God to rise and with love, defeat the darkness that is threatening to consume all.