John 17:21-23 – “I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they be one so that the world will believe that You sent Me. I gave them the same glory You gave Me so that they may be one, just as You and I are one. I in them and You in Me, so that they may be completely one in order that the world may know that You sent Me and that You love them as You love Me.”
One – united, joined, combined, together
This passage is part of a prayer spoken by Jesus just before His betrayal, trial, and death. Here He prays for His disciples, it is worth reading a hundred times over. Jesus prays for the unity of His people because He knows that “a house divided against itself cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)”. Any group of people is as effective and powerful as it is committed and unified. These are the very two things constantly attacked by the enemy – he lulls us to sleep with apathy, watering down our faith and commitment and he divides the church which splits because of debatable points of theology and because of quarrels which result from selfishness, pride, and resentment. These issues were even present in the first days of the church for Paul writes to them to accept each other, “without quarreling over disputable matters (Romans 14:1 NIV)”. And elsewhere he says to believers, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Cor. 1:10)”.
The greatest thing our enemy fears on this earth is a unified church, committed to Christ and to each other. There are many places where Scripture calls the church “the body of Christ”. Just as Paul says, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:5)”. If you are in Christ, you cannot withhold yourself from the rest of the body. Scripture says, “do not forsake gathering yourselves together as has become the habit of some (Hebrews 10:25)”. You must be vitally connected to other believers. The easiest way to do this is to attend your local church, but do not merely attend – you are to find use for the gifts God has given you. As Scripture says, “we have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy is accordance with your faith; if serving then serve; if it is teaching then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is to give, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)”.
Your gifts are for advancing God’s kingdom by serving your brothers and sisters. Therefore, volunteer in any way you think you might be of use – being generous with your money, time, love, and prayers. (A word to church leaders – be extremely careful that you don’t accidentally discourage someone who is trying to be useful to the church). We are only as effective as we are united to each other and we are only as united to each other as we are united to Christ. We are to be one – submitted to one another in love and submitted completely to God – “so that with one mind and one voice (we) may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:6)”. Therefore we must lay down our pride, and “do not think you are superior (Romans 12:16)” to someone. Rather, let us come together being “devoted to one another in love (Romans 12:10)”.
Point to Ponder
Are you holding a grudge against anyone? It is vitally important that you forgive for if you do not forgive your brother or sister, God will not forgive you (Matthew 6:15). Or, do you consider yourself to be superior to others? Remember; we all have different gifts (Romans 12:6) and every part of the body is as important and valuable as all the others (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). Are you withholding from the body the gifts God has given you? Remember the parable of the talents (see Matthew ch. 25). God expects you to use and invest what He has given you and will hold you accountable.
Let’s pray, “Lord Jesus, thank You for dieing in the cross to make us Yours. We are Yours and in You we are all connected for we all belong to You. Help us to set aside our differences, our selfishness, and our pride. May we truly be Your hands and feet – brothers and sisters to each other united by love for You and for each other. Give us a genuine love and concern for each other. May we lift each other up and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), as You have taught us. May all of Your children, in You and through You be one. May we be in You so that all the world may believe that You are Lord of all and that through Your grace You have loved us and called us Your own. May Your church be all that You intended and desire her to be. May all of Your children so reflect You that no one can doubt that we are Yours. May the lives Your children be a testimony to the world, that through us and our live, You might draw all peoples to You. Amen.”