“My prayer is not for them 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 —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 17:20-23)
In this passage Jesus is praying for His disciples and for those who would come to faith through the message they would later proclaim to the world. He was praying for His Church. The one recorded prayer Jesus prays for us, should make us stand at attention. What did He pray for? Power? Protection? Wisdom? Nope. It was Unity. Jesus prayed that we would be one just as He and the Father were one. That is no loose connection.
Jesus told us that to see Him was to see the Father. He called himself “I AM”. So, basically Jesus was asking God that we be so united that to see one believer was to see them all and was to see Him. He prayed for complete unity. Complete. Meaning I am not whole without my brothers and sisters in Christ; we are part of each other. Think about it, every believer who is abiding in Christ, remaining in the vine is abiding there together.
Why did Christ pray this? So that the world would know who He was, that He was sent by God, that He loved them. Jesus gave his life to unite us to the Father. All of us. If we are all united to God through Jesus, we are also united to one another.
How did Jesus envision changing the world? Through love. And not just any kind of love, but perfect, sacrificial, unconditional love. He knew that if the world could see people from every nation, tribe, language. culture, and color coming together to agree that Jesus is Lord, they would take notice. Nothing on the earth has ever united very many people for very long. Our human nature defies loving those who are different from ourselves. So a love that can unite us despite our differences must be divine, special, life changing and real. It has to be truth. A love like that is sacred, holy. The love of Christ displayed and “fleshed out” in us is holiness.
But unity is not an easy task. We don’t always agree and we have good biblical reasons for our opinions. So, how do we achieve holiness? We don’t. Jesus wasn’t asking us to be one. He was asking the Father. God is the only one who can transform us into images of His love. Unity is His work. Our role is submission. As we submit to His ways of forgiving and loving and caring for others, whether or not we like them or identify with them; as we lay down our rights to ourselves, He is working holiness and unity in our lives. And as He works, the world is watching.
--Jeni Campbell-White, Thailand
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I decided that to be right was more important than the person in front of me. Forgive me for talking more than listening, for confusing self-righteousness with holiness. Lord, make me one with you and with your people. Help me daily to lay aside my pride and to love first. Transform my heart so that I seek unity with you and others. Reorder my thoughts so that unity is a priority of my mind. Open my eyes to see and focus on you and your kingdom first; Change how I communicate so that I listen more and speak “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it will benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). Jesus, make me like you today. Show me how I can be an instrument of peace and blessing to everyone I meet. In Jesus Name, Amen.