(Based on the entire chapter of John 17)
Jesus is praying for me. That jumps out from these verses right away. Jesus Christ is just hours from being arrested and crucified, and He knows it, and in those final precious hours He stops to pray for the Church. Notice, He explicitly says that He is praying for those who will one day believe. That’s you and me. Did you notice WHAT He prays for us? Unity. He prays that we will be unified so that the world will believe the Gospel. That’s high stakes!
The phrase that jumps off the page is this one: “I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Jesus had all of God, and we have all of Jesus, so in Jesus we have all of God. That’s unity. It’s vertical unity that leads to horizontal unity. Jesus says this is the key to making the Gospel known. When the world sees this kind of unity and love, they know that something divine is happening, and the listen to the message.
Oh, how the Church fails at this one. I guess in light of this prayer, it’s easy to see why the enemy attacks our unity so often, and we almost encourage his attacks. We are suspicious and guarded and competitive. We divide into groups that attack other groups. We even fight publicly, criticizing one another over small complaints and fighting over the meaning of words. And we do this in the name of Jesus! How God must grieve at our approach.
I want unity in God’s Church, and I want it to begin with me. Today I am going to push aside competition and comparisons and petty rivalries. I’m going to forgive the offenses of others and make restitution for my own offenses. I’m going to keep my eyes on something bigger: I serve Jesus Christ, and everyone who serves alongside me is a teammate. I must think of them that way. I pray that God will work in me to help me to love those around me for His glory.
Lord, help your Church to reach out to you and to reach out to one another. Lord, teach us to truly love one another, so that the world will know You. Help me to live at peace, as much as it depends on me, with everyone around me. And especially help me to be unified with other believers, so that we can share the light of the Gospel in this world.