John 17 (spring AD 30, Thursday evening of Passion Week)
“I have given [Christians] the glory that you gave me, 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 send me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (v.22-23)
What does Christian unity mean to you?
Jesus wants us to be united in the way that he and his Father are united, which means a number of things such as:
- Unbreakable family commitment
- Responsibility to actively and proactively love each other
- Having the same guiding purpose
- Not necessarily having the same opinions (as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading when Jesus asks for something and his Father says ‘No’)
Then notice the ENORMOUS importance of that Christian unity:
When Christians are united in that way, “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (v.23).
When we content ourselves with an apathetic, quasi-love, and with bitter arguing over secondary matters, not encouraging each other into a closer walk with God, the world looks at us and isn’t sure about Jesus. In fact it is reaffirmed in its belief that Jesus was ‘just some guy’, because it looks to them as though believing in him doesn’t have a material impact on how people live.
On the other hand, when we are united, the world can see more clearly who Jesus is through the impact it has on us.
So Christian unity isn’t a nice-to-have, or a ‘yeah sure but Bro X is wrong about some important things so I need to warn people away’. It’s a matter of gospel-level importance. Unless someone has literally abandoned the gospel, our focus and emphasis must be on unity in diversity, not on a kind of faux discernment that seeks to ‘purify’ people into looking more like us.
Be united and people will more clearly see Jesus and the gospel.
Lack unity and it’s harder for people to see Jesus or the gospel.
It’s that simple.
Love your brothers and sisters in Christ like they’re your…brothers and sisters.