John 17:20-23 – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 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 that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
When someone is in the final hours of their life on earth, what they do and say tends to be what is most significant. On the brink of His own death on the cross, Jesus stops to pray His longest prayer for Christian unity. Apparently, the issue of loving relational unity among the big diverse family of God is among Christ’s highest priorities. Therefore, it should be something that Christians also pray for and pursue.
What Christian unity is:
- Unity is centered around God. If God is at the center, and more important than anyone or anything else, then unity will result. As people draw nearer to God they will invariable become nearer to one another as a byproduct of pursuing God. This is true in marriages, families, ministries, churches, and between Christians scattered throughout various churches and ministries.
- Unity is the result of loving, humble service. In this prayer, Jesus is perhaps hours from dying on the cross as the most-humble act of love. Unity happens when we humble ourselves to love and serve others. Conversely, division happens when we are proud and want others to serve us.
- Unity is for the purpose of a great mission. People, Christian and otherwise, pull together for causes greater than they could accomplish by themselves. We read in Genesis 11:6, “the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’” Looking at unbelievers building the Tower of Babel, God saw that their unity was a powerful force for evil. When Christians work together to plant churches, evangelize the lost, and serve their communities, there is great power that comes from pulling together. The prayer that Jesus prayed was with eleven men who had very little resources and no political power. A few thousand years later, Christianity is the biggest, longest-lasting, and most influential movement of any kind in the history of the world. This just goes to prove that if God’s people pray and pull together, anything is possible.
Which of the three facets of Christian unity are you strongest and weakest at?