In John chapter 17, Jesus knows that the time is coming for Him to go to the cross. And we see Him praying to the Father in this section of scripture. He prays for Himself as He seeks to glorify God in what is about to happen, He prays for His disciples because He knows how important this time is going to be for each of them, and He prays for believers: those who were and also all those that ever will be.
This section of scripture is powerful when you read and listen to the words that Jesus Himself prayed to the Father. If you aren’t familiar with it, I would encourage you to read the entire chapter. But it’s His prayer for ALL believers that I want to highlight in this blog.
In John 17:21, Jesus says: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
God’s desire for His people is that we would be ONE. That we would love and care for one another with grace and mercy. That we would be able to live together in unity regardless of our theological differences. The truth is, the Bible is complex and no one can interpret it perfectly. We’re going to disagree on certain things, but we can’t let those things keep us from being ONE.
There’s an old saying: “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” What it basically means is that there are some things that we, as followers of Christ, have to be unified in. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God who came and died for our sins and rose from the grave so that we might have life—that’s one of those essentials. But there are many things that aren’t essentials, that we as believers get hung up on and it causes unnecessary division.
I love that I live in a community where all of the churches and pastors I know don’t get caught up on our theological differences. We put aside those non-essentials, because we realize that we are better together. We know that we are more effective when we walk in unity as ONE.
I’m excited that many of the churches and pastors in our community are closing the doors of our specific churches this week to gather as ONE Church at the High School football stadium. This is what Jesus prayed would be happening among believers: that instead of promoting our individual agendas, we would come together as ONE to lift Jesus up and see His will be done. Lord, let this simply be the beginning of what You’re doing to create ONE Church in our community!