Jesus prayed in John 17 that we be one. Cool! So what does it mean to be one?
Some think if we got along, putting aside our differences we would fulfill His prayer. They think if we could work together or have large meeting together this would be great. Others think if the pastors could get together and get along it would fulfill John 17.
A couple things to be remembered are while Jesus prayed this prayer, He also told us that He did not come to bring peace but division. In addition He reminds us of tares in the Church; False believers.
So in a battle zone of false believers and His process of dividing those who are His from those who aren’t, it isn’t surprising that we have strife. War for us is normal, not strange.
Anyone can go to church and call themselves a Christian. Any religion can open its doors starting a church and call itself Christian. Yes a big mess! So it is impossible and detrimental to try to form unity amongst false believers.
Unity happens. It isn’t something formed with a deep desire, innovative planning or taking a minimalist approach to theology –reducing our religion to watered non-distinctive.
Looking at John 17 we see the distinguishing marks that isolate who Jesus was praying for and the unity he hoped for.
1) Those who possess Eternal life, which doesn’t include all who call themselves Christian.
2) Of course those who know Him have eternal life and obey Jesus’ words which came from the Father.
3) This requires faith which produces the aforementioned.
4) He pray’s that we will be one as He and the Father are: A like reality of truth, like minded, like heart, and like purpose.
5) He prays for our sanctification or drawing closer to the truth, mind and heart they share, thus not being of this world...
6) He prays that the love that is in them would be in us...this is reflected by our joint purpose with Christ, a self giving love.
We will only have unity with Jesus when we trust Him and obey Him. Those who do this are one. This is unity.
We may be from different parts of the World or go to different churches. We often times will never meet. Some will join together in God’s work together and others may never have unity with other believers in their area.
Because some have zeal, know their Bible, are on the worship team are not the distinctions that are mentioned in John 17. Unity is formed around the action associated with the belief in Christ such that we act in harmony with the heart of Christ and is reflected by the spent life we share with Christ.
The best thing that can be done from a Church perspective is to live and preach the Gospel. The gospel that is preached today-believe in Jesus and be saved- has caused a lot of the problems with tares, thus division.
The gospel simply said is eternal life for those who believe Jesus such that they live the sacrificial life of love like Jesus. These have been forgiven, will be sanctified and are justified. In this we have unity.
We having unity with false believers can never happen...unless...we are one with them.
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