I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21
In the 17th Chapter of the Gospel of John we have glimpse of Jesus in prayer. He has prayed for himself and for those that have been with him throughout his ministry and then he turns to the future and he prays for all of us. The remarkable thing about this is that he had full confidence in the future of the mission and what would happen.
At this moment his followers were few and he was facing the Cross but his confidence was unshaken and he was praying for those of us, who would come after him, and believe in his name. But what was this prayer of his for us, for more specifically for his church of the future, it was that we would all be one. We read in verse 21, “That hey all may be one, as you, father are in me and I in you.”
What is this oneness that Jesus is speaking of here, is it oneness of doctrine or belief? What about worship, is he praying that we will all have the same worship and worship the same way? I do not think so. The essence of the oneness between Jesus and God is love, unconditional love.
There is an old song that goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” This is true. God is the essence of love and we are commanded to love God and to love each other. The witness of this love from to us in the third chapter of John, “for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.” Christian unity should transcend all of our differences and join us together.
If we truly loved each other, and God, then no church would exclude anyone who was a disciple of Christs. Only the implanted love in each heart will be able to tear down the barriers which we have erected between us, artificial barriers that keep us apart.
It is normal for humans to be divided and it goes against the grain, as the saying goes, for humans to come together. We see this after some sort to tragic event. People come together for a little while and then the natural tendency to separate returns. The unity that Jesus prayed for was to be the unity that convinced the world of the truth of his message. This is the unity that would transcend nationality and socio economic standing and truly bring people together. Real unity between all Christians would be a supernatural fact that would require a supernatural explanation and that explanation would be God’s love.
It is our individual duty to demonstrate to each other and to the world that unity of love with all of humanity that is the answer to the prayer of Christ. And the reason why this is so important should be obvious, faced by the disunity of the Christian faith, the world cannot see the supreme value of the Christian faith.
They will know we are Christians by our love. Love for all of humanity not just the parts we like.