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. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26
Jesus prays that the unity he enjoys with the Father will be revealed to his followers. In the church we do not create unity—unity is revealed to us as a gift—a prayer—to be received. We are invited to enter into the unity that Jesus is already sharing with the heavenly Father. As we, together with him, receive that unity, we can, also, be one with one another.
When it comes to revealing the good news of the gospel to our cities and towns, our impact is exponentially greater when we are together in unity. Like the coals of a fire when gathered close together, flames explode to bring light and create warmth. But separate those same coals—isolate them from each other—and they can begin to smolder.
Jesus prayed for his followers throughout time to receive his unity so that the world would know that the Father had sent him. There is a fierce battle over the unity of the church because it is in that unity that the Son is revealed with the good news of the gospel. Christian unity is not based on our lowest common denominator. There is no unity if truth is absent, but our unity comes from the highest common denominator—the victorious Christ over sin and death.
When we all look up to the risen Christ with outstretched arms, we can receive His unity. His unity multiplies the church just like flames multiply fire over a parched prairie. Pray for revival fires of faith and open your arms to receive the revealed unity that Jesus brings you from the Father through the Holy Spirit—that God’s love in you may spread to the world.
Holy Father, unite our hearts—and love the world through us to you—in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.