“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 17:23).
On the night Jesus was betrayed, just before He embarked on His passion, Jesus prayed to His Father for the unity of all believers, those for whom He would die, giving them spiritual life (John 17:20-23). It is interesting to note that as Jesus prays for unity, He also prays for the clear message of salvation, found only in the truth of Scripture. Jesus says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Connecting these thoughts, we see a unique distinctive of Christians. Christians are set apart by God to grow together, as they trust in the truth of Sacred Scripture.
When an individual first believes, the Holy Spirit enters the new-found believer, placing them in union with the risen Lord, fulfilling His promise, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:23). Inclusive to God’s salvation is an empowerment to believe Biblical truth that unifies us as body members, together in Him (1 Corinthians 12:12). So, how does unity impact our living? Unity impacts many aspects of the Christian life. One such way is on mission.
It is true that Christ saved us separately, but He did not save us to be separate. A singular Christian can go on mission sharing the gospel. The work will be hard. In time, the weight of discouragement becomes too great and He or she quits. Things are simply too tough to go on.
However, many believers coming together are an “army on the ground” for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Their work will be hard but the encouragement of fellow-workers is sweet as they strive on mission together. One of the great joys of ministry is the joy of working together, shoulder to shoulder, as a gospel witness, making disciples and loving neighbor.
As believers mature in Christ, they intrinsically love Him more. As believers work together, His love flows through them, developing a greater and greater love for each other. The love of the one-another’s striving together will never be in vain because the focus will not be on the strain of labor but on the expectancy of God receiving the Glory. How does that look? Jesus said it this way, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
One candle pierces the darkness. Many candles push darkness away. However, the light Jesus speaks of is no simple candle. His light, inherent only to Him, destroys darkness. It can never be snuffed out. Think about it – As Christians, we are to bear witness or “reflect” the light of Gospel truth into the falsehood of a dark world. Herein unity steps forward to give us the jolt, just when we need it. As we share His truth, making disciples and loving neighbor together.
- Selby Brannon