Please note the following is an excerpt from the book, “Jesus’ Prayer from A to Z”, of which I’m Editor.
- J - Jesus’ Gospel Prayer, by
We usually refer to John 17: 20-21 as Jesus’ prayer for unity, but that is to
confuse the means with the end: “... so that the world may believe that you have sent
me.” John 17: 20-21 is Jesus’ gospel prayer for the world - that all may believe!
This passage is certainly about Jesus’ prayer for our togetherness - for the
very best of relationships in Christian community. But the focus is on the effect of
unity - that others will see life lived ‘in all its fullness’ (John 10:10) and want that life
for themselves. It is a prayer for the followers of Jesus to live in harmony with God’s
purposes as well as with other believers so that all people will know who Christ is.
Only in our best moments do we realize that Christian unity is central to the
life of the church. It is no ‘optional extra’. Our relationships with God and others are
at the heart of the gospel. We have Jesus’ authority for that. ‘What is the greatest
commandment?’ he was asked. ‘Love God’ was the answer. ‘And if you ask me what
is second, it’s loving others’. (Mark 12:28-34)
The ‘Stone-Campbell’ movement (Churches of Christ - Christian - Disciples
of Christ) grew out of the recognition that the church two centuries ago was much
less effective in making Christ known because of its bitter rivalries and divisions.
Unity was seen as essential for effectively proclaiming the gospel; ‘back-to-Biblebasics’
was seen as the means of achieving that unity.
Practising unity is preaching the gospel without words. Practising division
is denying the gospel has meaning. Jesus challenged his followers to embody unity -
to demonstrate the relationships of the new creation in new community.
Where do we start? It is essential that we begin in the areas closest to us: in
our families, among our friends and acquaintances, within our congregations. Unity
in the wider Christian community can be built only if these primary building blocks
are top quality - poor bricks, poor building.
In my early teens I was helping with the pre-schoolers. At our Sunday School
teachers’ meeting we discussed whether to redecorate the room this class was using.
We were unanimous in wanting to go ahead - except for our elderly treasurer. The
time was set for repainting - 8 am the following Saturday. I was the second to arrive
- the treasurer was already there. I naively said that I was surprised to see him there.
He explained that ‘we’ had decided the job was to be done.
I learned a lot about the church that day. About commUnity. About unity in
diversity. And about the everyday outcome of the gospel. Looking back, I see that
the congregation of my youth was very diverse - but it had a treasured unity under
the Lordship of Christ. Actions were certainly louder than our many controversial
Barton W. Stone said, “Let unity be our polar star.” Before the days of GPS
devices we used stars to orient and guide us; but they are never the destination in
themselves. Beyond the polar star, we must see the natal star - and what its light
Prayer: Almighty God, Your will is unity; Christ prayed for unity the
night before he was crucified; and unity is at the heart of the gospel message.
For the sake of a world in search of faith, help us to make your priority our
priority too. Amen. Let it happen.
Jacobs, Lyndsay - Kirwee, New Zealand - Past President and General Secretary, World Convention (Christian - Churches of Christ - Disciples). He and wife Lorraine made a concerted effort to establish and maintain ties with the various streams of this very loose-knit, organization-shy family of faith, determining a presence in more than 160 countries (now more than 180)! See www.worldconvention.org
The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is His new creation By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.
Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.
Yet she on earth has union With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee.
- Samuel J. Stone (1839-1900)
Just what am I willing to put on the altar
to maintain the unity of the Spirit?
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
the Justice system (Judges, juries, jails, attorneys)
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Believers in Jamaica, Japan, JordanThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom (Jn.17:21) M.,
Fellowship of John 17:21
|Powered by Social Strata|