How Will They Believe?
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"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." - John 17:21
I like to think I am writing these for myself, after all Paul said, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” Though I do not see myself as a teacher, I do believe myself to be a theologian. After all, what is a theologian but a person who studies God by way of His word. I should hope I am doing that for myself.
So here am I caught up in the verse above from John 17, where Jesus is praying. Here He is at the point of talking about the future church, those who will eventually believe. The part I am struck by is where Jesus alludes to the church's mission of helping others believe in the Gospel of Christ, where God sent His Son to earth.
How might many of the world believe? The answer is in the words preceding that statement. I see two qualifications:
1. “they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me” - It is not just the unity of the body of believers, but unity that imitates the unity of the Father and the Son. One of the many ways the two are unified is unity in purpose and will as well as nature. One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to reveal God's character through His own conduct (John 14:9). One of many things Jesus talked about was doing His Father's will (John 5:30). As far as He was concerned that was the only will to do. It was one of many ways the Son was in the Father or unified (Amos 3:3).
2. “that they also may be one in Us” - The first point then ties into the second here. Jesus was also an example of how to have a dependent relationship with the Father, by adhering to His will alone. If He, being equal with God, submitted to God the Father, then those who are less in nature must also submit by obeying God's will. Hence the implication is one of a lifestyle of obedience.
But that makes sense, does it not? Who is going to believe a Christian if they are not acting like a Christian? One's testimony or lifestyle is called to question when one is showing a pattern of disobedience. So even if I am flagrant with the laws of the road, to include speeding, I cannot expect someone to listen to my sharing Christ's Gospel (Romans 13:1). If my life is one of dishonesty how can I tell others about the Truth Who is Christ?
In like manner what is a group of people calling themselves Christian if they backstab and devour one another? What would the world see in that but themselves? Then why should they listen to our message?
Even the world teaches itself that their words must be backed up by their actions. That is where they are heard.
It is no less true for the church.
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