‘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, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. 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. (John 17:20-23 NIV)
Wow…this is really powerful. It’s the continuation of Jesus’ prayer from yesterday and now in addition to his disciples, he adds all the believers since and those in the future into the mix. my first impressions: what an honor to know that Jesus really was thinking of me as he was about to go to the cross. in addition, how great is it that his life and his words weren’t just for those back in 30ad, but for all of us up to now and into the future? this really speaks to the timelessness of the gospel.
and then there’s the detail of what he was praying for – in short – unity. in his final hours before unjustly enduring the most tragic torturous form of execution ever devised by man, jesus found it important to pray that the believers of the future would be made perfectly or completely one. does that mean there should be no denominations or differences of opinion? i don’t think so. i think it’s about being unified about the core issues of the faith: the trinity, the Godship of Christ, his sacrificial death, our being saved by faith, etc. and not letting petty issues divide us. why? so that the people of the world can see that God sent Jesus to do what he did and that God loves them. when the church argues and fights over petty issues and dogmas, the people of the world disregard the church as irrelevant and pointless, and they’re right to do so. the church has to find a way to celebrate our common ground and respect our different worship styles, our different teaching styles, and our different doctrines. I realize that there are some completely false teachings out there that go against the core of the faith and we should stand against those teachings, but for everyone else we have to learn to get along. why? so that the people of the world will see the church for what it should be, a group of people who love God, each other, and the people of the world. that’s part of our mission.