John 17:20-26 (NIV)
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-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.
I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my
glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the
creation of the world.
Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know
that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will
continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be
in them and that I myself may be in them."
Jesus Prays for Unity
"If you only had one thing you could ask for, what would it be?"
This chapter gives us an insider view of the content of Jesus' prayer to the Father. In this section, he prays for us -- for believers who would come to faith through the testimony of those who came after him. That's us!
Interestingly, the thing he prays for above all things is for oneness. He prays that believers be united with him, with one another in love.
Sadly, the one thing that has likely done more damage to the cause of Christ throughout history is the disunity of the church. Splits and rumors of splits. Grudges. Pettiness. Arguments. Factions. Division. All these things tell the world that we can't (or won't or don't) get along with each other.
The disunity of the church undermines our witness like nothing else. Who wants to be a part of a movement where the members are at each other's throats? Where there is bickering and infighting? Gossip and back-biting?
It would be easy to think of other people when reading these words, but I'd challenge you to take a personal inventory today. Ask yourself a few questions.
- Am I quick to forgive or do I hold grudges?
- Are my relationships marked by love and unity? With family? With friends? As far as it depends upon me, do I live at peace with others?
- Do I find myself gossiping about other believers? Sharing bad reports (even if true) about them?
- Do I have unresolved conflicts within my circle of brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Do I overlook offenses or am I easily offended?
- Am I patient, kind, and longsuffering with fellow believers?
- Do I quickly admit when I'm in the wrong? Do I seek to restore friendship when it has been damaged?
- Do I give people the benefit of the doubt? Or do I believe the worst about my fellow Christians?
- Do I major on the majors? Or do I focus on secondary matters? Do I stir up dissension among the church family?
- Do I "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?" (Ephesians 4:3)
Jesus asks for "complete unity." That's what we should pray for and seek as well.