That They May Become Perfectly One by Rocky Fleming
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are 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.” John 17:20-23 (ESV)
Would you make a little imaginary journey with me which will include all followers of Christ throughout history joining us? Big order huh? Well, it is an imaginary thought, so we have a lot of leeway here. But I do this to make a very important point to understand how we should view life, and especially other Christians. Now picture this:
In some mysterious way Jesus assembles all the believers in history in one place. But He pays closer attention to those of us alive today, for we really need to hear His heart in things going on around us. He then prays for every one of us who would come to know Him as a result of the faithful disciples who would take the gospel out from that day. That is what the prayer above is all about. It is about Christians who will follow those disciples, and that would include Christians today. Jesus starts by asking of His Father the greatest living blessing that He can bestow on His disciples, which is that they will be one with Him as He is with the Father. Now it makes sense He would do this for them, for they had served with Him for three years. Jesus was about to be crucified. He knew He would resurrect from the grave and shortly afterwards He would return to heaven from whence He had come. He knew His destiny. In this prayer He was praying for His disciples’ destiny, for they would be greatly challenged. He was concerned, and He assured them later that his Spirit would be joining them and empowering them. But get this, for this is meant for you and me. Jesus was also praying the same thing for all of us who would follow that He prayed for the disciples.
In our imagination we can see Jesus standing before all of His followers throughout history as He prays that prayer for us. He asks that we would be one with Him and the Father, and each other. For those who are dead already and redeemed, they know the benefit firsthand with making the greatest choice of their life, which is to follow Jesus. They are celebrating heaven and their eternal abode, as Jesus celebrates with them. But what follows creates a somber sense that all is not well with all His followers. That is why He pays special attention to those of His family who are still alive today.
Jesus then separates those of us in His Church who are still alive, and He then looks at us intently with a look of grief and concern. “You are breaking My heart,” He states. We look around and ask if He’s talking to one of us or all of us. How are we breaking Jesus’ heart, is our question to each other. Well, you know Jesus. He is the master of an illustration that gives us a word picture followed by an explanation. He does it again.
In an instant our eyes are opened to see that we are separated by walls between each other based on race, denomination, political preference, citizenship and numerous other superfluous and erroneous distinctions in the Church Jesus gave His life for. In some rare cases, there is a door that is open between sections for sharing and hearing thoughts and values from other points of views. This dialogue and effort begins an erosion of walls that once separated them, and the two groups become one, as Christ prayed for. But there are way too few open doors, and certainly very little effort on the parts of the separatists to create and an open door to demonstrate Christian love to people unlike themselves, much less tear a wall down that separates them from each other. Their pride, and whatever tool the Accuser uses to keep God’s family disjoined is working, as they listen to him more than Jesus their Savior and Redeemer, and it grieves Jesus.
Make no mistake in thinking that Jesus is not grieved by our perspective and treatment of each other. But that’s about to change, for the grief of Jesus is about to be understood by those who continue to build walls and separate God’s Church. A reckoning is coming. His grief will turn to action against those who deceive and lead His family away from our relationship with Him … and each other. That time is about to be on them … thank God.
Far too long God’s family has been led astray by “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Far too long manipulators for power and private fortunes have turned God’s family against each other to gain a vote, or a seat, or to be heard. They have no interest in harmony, or peaceful relationships in our society, which is the work of the evil man. But the work of our Good Shepherd is to unify His flock, and to help us become the Church that is needed for these days.
The last thing we see in this imaginary trip is Jesus giving those of us who want to follow Him and please Him a final exhortation. “I’m praying that all of you will be one in Me as I am in the Father, and you in Us. I pray that you will be one with each other. If you want to please Me, then love each other. Reach out and build bridges to each other and tear down the walls that separate you. I am returning soon to redeem you to My kingdom. Until then, make disciples by showing them Me through your life. Your love for each other will be seen and it will impact the world as nothing else can. That is why you must love one another as I’ve loved you.”
Brothers and Sisters let me connect some very important lessons from Jesus about the oneness with Him and each other that He speaks of. It connects to His essential message to abide in Him to have that intimate, unhindered connection with Him. It is in this place that life change occurs, and most obvious are the healthy changes that occur in our relationships, our demeanor and words, and the way we influence our world around us. If God’s people will make it our mission and purpose to abide in Him as He invited us to do, then the oneness with Him and each other that He speaks of will occur. Therefore, it is time to tear down the walls that separate Christians and awaken the Church to fulfill our purpose. It’s time to create unity rather than divisions. The Church must learn to abide in Christ so that He can draw us together. The time is now. Let it begin in our life today.