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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)

TITLE: Jesus' Passion for Unity in Fellowship
By Amy Jung
10/18/07


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JESUS’ PASSION FOR UNITY IN FELLOWSHIP

John 17:20-23
“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 be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

As Peter reclined next to Jesus, his mind drifted away from what was being spoken. He watched the reflection of the candlelight dance across the basin of water and tried to go over in his mind all of the things he just heard Jesus say. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” The repeated command to, “Love one another.” And he could not forget the disturbing comment made directly to him, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” Jesus has now seemingly forgotten that two of his disciples would be betraying Him that very night. He now speaks with joy and excitement about remaining in Him, the Counselor He’ll send in His place and also leaving for a little while. Wait! Leaving for a little while!

Peter’s drifting thoughts are halted. Something critical was just said. Jesus assures his friends that he will be coming back and that they will be filled with joy. Soon after that, they are comforted by Jesus’ prayer for the Father to protect them so that they and future believers may be one. Peter notices that, in the face of leaving for a while, Jesus’ concern for unity is of utmost importance. In fact, His final prayer before leaving consists of praying for this very thing.

Peter couldn’t have had a full understanding of what would be happening to Jesus over the next hours or how important this prayer must have been to Him. On the other side of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we can have a clearer understanding and be can impacted by it tremendously. Jesus could have prayed about anything that fateful evening. He could have prayed that future believers would pick the right ministries, worship music or preachers. Instead, He pleaded with the Father for future believers to be one, just as They are one. Specifically so that the world would know that the Father had sent Him.

Does the world know, by our actions in the spirit of unity, that the Father has sent Christ?
Meditation on Jesus’ desire for our unity requires an honest look at my own thoughts on fellowship. I am confronted with desires that other believers would have the same theology as me. That my church would play more of my favorite hymns and worship music. I am often passionate about my individual study, prayer and ministry and less passionate about engaging with others in these pursuits. I am afraid of being caught up in too many relationships. I know they can be messy and time consuming. I am painfully aware that these inward thoughts are not inline with what Christ is passionate about. I am like Peter: prideful in my stance for Christ, yet easily overcome by the world. Although I often think of myself as being a Christian who does not conform to the culture around me, I see that I struggle with and often conform to individualism and busyness. Tasks are prioritized over relationships. Being comfortable is often times more important than the hard work of loving others as Christ loved me.

Christ loved me sacrificially. He desires that our fellowship with one another reflect this. He set a beautiful example for us when He washed His disciples’ feet. He took it a radical step further when He humbled Himself and experienced death on a cross in order to wash our sins away. As I pray for a heart that desires unity above worldly individualism, I am encouraged by some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before His death, “I have overcome the world.”

Prayer:
Father, you have overcome the world and sin through the death and resurrection of your Son. I pray that you would make me passionate about unity in the fellowship of your body of believers, of which you are the head. May we love one another as you have loved us and may the world then know that you sent your Son. Amen.


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Jan Ackerson 10/18/07
Your 4th paragraph is the best, and I'd love to read more on this--when you write these personal reflections, you're more likely to resonate with your readers.

You switched tenses a few times, from present to past and back again. A common error, and easy to fix.

Thanks for taking the time to share this well-thought-out devotional.
LauraLee Shaw10/20/07
Your prayer at the end is moving and shows your kind heart. :)
Donna Emery10/21/07
A very well-thought-out piece. Your heart for the Lord shines here. You express yourself well. Good work!