Answering Jesus’ Prayer for Unity
The seventh in the Stream's special series on #ChristianUnity
Editor’s note: This is the seventh piece in our series on Christian Unity.
As a teenager reading the biography of D. L. Moody, I was highly influenced by a statement Moody’s friend Henry Varley made to the young evangelist: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” As a boy, I said, “I want to be that person.” Now at 74, I still do! But even more, I want the world to see what God can do with a people who truly become disciples — His church on this earth, totally surrendered and committed to becoming an answer to Jesus’ prayers. Believers living in supernatural unity.
Earlier in The Stream’s #ChristianUnity series I shared how God has led me to meet with many diverse Christian leaders who religious tradition and the opinions of others had taught me to avoid. During these times of sharing and seeking together to know God’s heart, I have never disregarded or knowingly compromised God’s Word — and I never will. As a result, I have experienced firsthand the powerful truth of the psalmist, “How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). During these exchanges, I have many times felt what I perceived as the Father’s pleasure just as Betty and I experienced it when we watched our three children when they were young playing together in joyful harmony. The same has been true with our eleven grandchildren.
God’s Children in Harmony
What Jesus prayed for His followers is perhaps what seems to many as the impossible dream — “that they may be perfected in unity” (John 17:23). Knowing what I know about myself, other Christians, and especially ministers, this is the most difficult to see answered. If Jesus prayed it, however, it is more important than words alone can describe and obviously will be continually assaulted by the powers and principalities of darkness. The thought of believers being perfected in unity and love — truly becoming a family of faith with hearts in harmony with our Father in heaven — causes the forces of hell to tremble. The church standing on this foundation will overpower the realm of darkness, deception and destruction, setting free all captives who respond to the kingdom reality Jesus prayed for.
Hope, Even When God’s Children are Split
However, God’s children are split. Not merely on denominational lines, but on whether to hold firm to or abandon God’s timeless truths.
When we look at God’s divided family, we need to consider the parable Jesus shared concerning the father in the story of the prodigal son. This boy took from his father money that he had not earned or helped produce. He left the father’s presence, moved out of his shelter, and wasted everything the father had provided and entrusted to him. He damaged the family’s reputation with no regard for it, squandered his wealth in riotous living, and found himself in want. He was in such desperate need that of all things, this Jewish son had to live in a pigpen feeding unclean animals and eating what they ate. Because their laws and customs forbade contact with pigs, this was the lowest place a Jewish person could sink.
What was the response of the father concerning his son’s rebellion? He certainly didn’t condone it. He didn’t approve of it or continue to enable it. He didn’t act as the federal government often does by funding him while in rebellion in order to make him more comfortable. He prayed continually for the son. He cared deeply for him. The father’s love never diminished and he looked with a longing in his heart every day for that boy to return to the shelter, shadow and security of the father’s house. Sure enough, the day came, and he rejoiced to see his son come home! In love he embraced him, covered him and confirmed his sonship.
This should be the attitude of every Christian toward other believers even when they are defeated by sin or turn from the Truth. While not approving their actions, we continually pray for and long for a repentant heart leading to a return to the watch care of the Shepherd. In order for us to be perfected in the unity Jesus prayed for, we must have the love of our heavenly Father for one another. This is absolutely crucial.
Becoming Perfected in Unity
Consider the part of Jesus’ prayer that we be one with the Father as He is (John 17:22). Think about that a moment. Jesus was continually seeking to do only those things that please the Father. He moved as God directed His steps. He would separate Himself from the sounds of the world to know clearly the Father’s mind and be able to live in sync with His heart.
Can we not do the same?
Would you join me seeking to be one with the Father, perfected in unity so the world will know we are His disciples because of our love for Him, for one another, and for a world in darkness and pain? I may not know you personally, but I love you and I ask you to join with me seeking to be an answer to Jesus’ prayers so that the world may behold the glory of the Father and the Son in our lives! It is the manifestation of God’s love and our supernatural unity that can transform our nation’s leaders and citizens.