The last time Jesus was with the original 12 apostles he encouraged them, challenged them, and prayed with them. He prayed for himself, for his disciples, and finally for all believers:
“My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I 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
The point is obvious, but is the priority?
“The world” is increasingly individualistic, narcissistic, and competitive. Isn’t that a hint?
When I was in China, a Christian was a Christian. We didn’t care about denominations because we were bound by a common love for our Savior and for the people. However, I have personally experienced opposition and condemnation when I served alongside or attended worship services with believers of other denominations.
This is an old argument, but one that I feel a renewed conviction for because of the priority it was to Jesus:
“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 17:23
Yes, that’s the same verse I already used. Christ’s prayer implies that if we are not brought to complete unity it will be difficult to let the world know about Jesus and that God loves us even as He loves his son (a.k.a. the gospel). Those of the world, seeking to escape it, are not looking for a place of further division and separation, but a place and a people bound together by hope, trust, peace, kindness, forgiveness, patience, unity, and the love of Jesus.
Sin pulls us apart, just as the world is being pulled apart. But it is God’s love, carried out through his children, that will bring us and others closer to unity.
- be an agent of unity between believers and non-believers in order to display the love of Christ
- work on being in unity with the Father and Son through the Spirit