Are we known more for what divides us or what unites us?
Jesus prayed for one thing for us before he went to the cross & died, that we would be “one.”
His prayer for unity for His followers may have been the hardest thing He ever asked of God in prayer. Throughout the centuries the church has been marked & marred by division. More often than not, the church is known more for what separates us than for what unites us.
We live in a world that has never been more divided racially, politically, you name it.
But then, a natural disaster strikes, and even though we would never wish tragedy on anyone, it’s amazing to see how people pull together in these moments when the storm hits. It’s amazing to see the unity of people around helping each other. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
And it should be no surprise that people of faith are the ones who are responding first when people are hurting the most.
I think this is important for us because you know that for far too long the church has been known more for what separates us than for what unites us.
Because we’ve found ways to be divided. Because there are things we disagree on that come between us.
But our Heavenly Father never wanted His family to be divided, to be separated.
His desire is that we could come together, as one.
And I’m so glad & so proud that when crisis hits, we pull together. We respond as one. We set aside our differences for the sake of those in need. And that’s the way it should be.
But I also tend to think that God had something more in mind for us who believe in Jesus & call Him Lord.
His desire wasn’t for us to just be unified when tragedy hits & there’s a crisis. His prayer for us was for so much more.
What Jesus prayed for when He prayed for you…
You may not have ever thought about the fact that Jesus prayed for us while He walked the planet. But one of the last things Jesus prayed for before He died was for you.
Jesus – “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17.20-23
Jesus, who is the Great I AM, is praying to the Great I AM. And this is what I AM prays to I AM about…
He prays for you! He prays for us! He prays for all those who will one day believe in Jesus & call on His name!
And what does Jesus pray for when He prays for you, when He prays for us?
I think this is so important. In fact, this may be the most important thing you read or hear or think about this week. Because this is the ONE thing Jesus prayed for you to God before He went to the cross.
Jesus prayed that we, we who believe in Jesus, we who are members of the body of Christ, we who belong to his church, that we would be ONE!
That we would be united.
Jesus prayed for our UNITY.
Let that sink in. The most important thing to the most important person on the planet at the most important moment in human history is that his followers in the present & for all time would be UNIFIED.
For us to experience the same kind of unity as the Father and the Son experience. Wow! Is that even possible?
What if it is? What if it is possible for us to experience the same kind of unity that the Father & the Son & the Spirit experience?
What holds the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit together in perfect unity as one is LOVE.
Their love for each other & their love for us!
And love is the one thing above every other thing that unites us. That makes us inseparable. And if there’s ever any separation between us for any reason, what it really reveals is a lack of love.
So if we are going to be united as God is united, then we have to love the way God loves. We have to be united in our love for each other & for God.
Why is this SO important?
Jesus says, “…so that the world will believe you sent me.”
This is HUGE!!!!!
Our credibility with the world depends on our unity.
For us to be & do what we’re called to do & be it all begins & ends with our unity as a church.
Because the strongest witness we can have to the world around us is our love for each other. Our unity.
When we love each other well & exalt Jesus we will reach the world for Christ.
This is so important. I don’t even think we understand it. If what people think about when they think about you is that you’re someone who complains about your church & questions God… then when troubles come their way, when the storms of life hit, they’re not going to run FOR you you they’re going to run FROM you.
But… if what they think about when they think about you is that you’re someone who loves your church & is loved by your church & that you often speak of the goodness of God, then when trouble comes their way, when the storm hits, they aren’t going to run FROM you, they’re going to run FOR you! And you will have a chance to reach them FOR Christ!!!
So if there’s something between you & another person, if there’s something between you & another believer in Jesus in your life, I would ask you to elevate your love for them & your love for God to the point that nothing can separate you or come between you because of your love for them & because of your love for Christ.
Just so you know…
Even if it didn’t make the news, there’s a storm brewing in someone’s life this week. There’s someone you know who’s getting hit by gale force winds. There’s someone in your neighborhood, at your work, at your school, or someone you’re sitting next to at church who is getting beat up by the eye of the storm.
And the first responders need to be Christians. The ones on the scene first when the storm hits needs to be you & me. United in our love for God & our love each other.
Because when we love each other well & exalt Jesus we will reach the world for Christ.
This is us… Real people, real problems, believing in a real God, standing together as ONE.