There’s this one passage in John’s gospel that always blows my mind. Okay, there are lots of them that do that, but there’s one in particular that does it in a completely different way than all the others. In John 17, Jesus prayer for his disciples. He prayed that those who were with him in the upper room would be protected from the evil one as they remain in the world but not of it. That they would be sanctified in and by the truth, which is God’s Word.
And then, in John 17:20-23, Jesus shifted his emphasis from those with him to the ones who were still far off—including you and me:
I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
This portion of his prayer is so power, not just because of the missionary component, but because of his desire that we be united. United in mission, united in faith, united in every way imaginable. I don’t know that it’s possible to overstate the importance of these things. But it’s not just the “whats” that is powerful. Again, it’s the who. You and I, if we are followers of Jesus, we are called to unity in him. Jesus prayed for us to be one, so that the world would believe that the Father sent him.
Unity isn’t something we’re particularly good at. We’re sinners, after all. We like to have our own way. We allow bitterness take root far too easily. We allow cultural biases to blind us to reality more often than any of us like to admit. But Jesus calls us to this. He prayed that it would be so. Let’s do the same.