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THE LORD IS ONE
"'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, so 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 NIV.
This is the third of Jesus' requests -- for unity in His body throughout the ages. Why was unity so important to Jesus?
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness so that they may rule...' So God created mankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:26a, 27 NIV.
Theologians have many ideas about what the image of God means -- a moral being; self-conscious and self-determining; able to know and have fellowship with Him etc. Although these are all valid expressions of the image of God, there is one overriding characteristic that makes human beings uniquely created in His image. He created us to be one with Him and with one another so that we perfectly reflect Him in the world.
The Hebrew "creed" (Deuteronomy 6:4) or Shema which they repeated over and over every day, and which a Hebrew child learned at his mother's breast, states: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."
Misunderstood, this statement has caused confusion because "one" is understood to mean one in number rather than one in unity in diversity.
"Reading here that God is one, most Jews for centuries have ruled out the possibility that Jesus could be the Son of God, on the same divine plane as the Father..."
"The Hebrew word translated one in Deuteronomy 6:4 is echad. Its meanings include the number one but also has such associated meanings as "one and the same," "as one man, together [unified]," "each, every," "one after another" and "first [in sequence or importance]" (Brown, Driver and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1951, page 25). It can also be rendered "alone" as the New Revised Standard Version translates it here (William Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1972, page 9).The exact meaning is best determined by the context." (http://www.ucg.org/booklet/who-god/how-god-one/lord-our-god-one/)
Although "God is one" could mean "first in priority" or "alone", Jesus gave substance to the New Testament truth that He and the Father are one in mind and heart, in essence and purpose, although two distinct persons. It was God's original intention to create an entire universe that functioned as a unit to express the nature of the Godhead.
Marriage, according to Genesis 2:24, the most intimate of human relationships, was to mirror that oneness between a husband and wife. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh," because humans have the capacity to be one by choice and behaviour. The Bible is full on examples of the unity that mirrors the nature of God.
Adam's disobedience disrupted the unity between God and man and in the entire cosmos, but God intervened through Jesus to reconcile everything to Himself and to restore the entire creation to the unity He established in the beginning.
"For God was pleased to have all His fulness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19, 20 NIV.
Unity between believers is a miracle that only God can create, but it is up to us to maintain that unity (Ephesians 43) by submitting ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
Will Jesus' prayer be answered? Most certainly because God has promised that what He began He will complete, but we must partner with Him to see the dream of Jesus being fulfilled.
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