february 17th - One
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. " John 17:20-23 (NKJV)
Jesus' death was imminent. In light of the coming circumstances Jesus turned His attention to a subject that was near and dear to His heart and began to pray. Out of all the possibilities Jesus could have prayed for, He prayed for the unity of the Believers. Not just those who were following Jesus at the time, but the future generations of the Church that would be established by the Disciples' evangelistic efforts.
The following question needs to be carefully considered: "How unified is God the Father and God the Son?" If we consider God's "oneness" to be significant--we must also take that same standard and apply it to the Church. Jesus' prayer does not allow for a lot of wriggle room, He prayed specifically, "Father make them one as You and I are one...that the world may believe that You sent Me." Was Jesus serious? If unity was a goal of the Founder and Lord of the Church, is it a matter that should be important to us today!
I would argue that the unity of the Church should matter to Believers for two reasons: Firstly, it was of great importance to Jesus. Secondly, it is a significant sign to the "world" that Jesus is who He said He was! So...how do we get there? I have three very simple suggestions:
Author's Note: There are doctrinal differences that are important. These doctrinal differences, when heretical in nature, make us aware of the difference between the Church and cult groups. Most of the divisions within the Body of Christ are not based on heretical interpretations of the Bible. Most of the doctrinal ideas that divide us are fairly minor and often nonsensical. In order to be "One" we must rally around our Lord Jesus Christ, and lay aside fighting over opinions that most likely don't matter in the end. Lord, make us One! RJD