Unity with the Church

Jesus prayed for the believers who would follow after him even 2,000 years later. It is an awesome idea to recognize that Jesus was thinking of me when he was in his earthly ministry. In the prayer recorded in John 17 for the disciples Jesus wraps up that prayer by turning his attention to the future followers. A future where there would be a mass community of believers and followers all over the earth.

“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. John 17:20-21 ESV

Jesus in this prayer is concerned for the unity of the church. Unity is a hallmark of God’s character. Jesus notes how he and the Father are one. Jesus is in perfect unity with God and because of that every word and action from Jesus is perfectly what God wants. In the same way Jesus wants the church to be in unity, he wants me to be in unity with him. If I am in unity with Jesus then I am also in unity with others that are in unity with Jesus.

Think of it this way. If two people worlds apart are both focused on God and what he wants then these two people will be unified in God. The closer two people grow in relationship with the Creator the closer aligned they will be individually. On the other hand if two people are pursuing their own agenda then they will continue to distance themselves from each other and from God.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 ESV

There is no place for selfishness with God. He is the source of everything and any desire or ambition that that elevates self or wants to defend self is not connected to him. Jesus provided many examples of this dynamic, but one I like best is from Matthew.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:41 ESV

The context in the example from Jesus is that a Roman could force someone support him on his journey for a mile. In anger and fear one would be forced to follow such a command. Yet Jesus tells the Disciples that if forced to go the first mile out of duty or obligation, then go a second mile out of love and service. Such a gesture will be noticed and that kind of servant attitude is an example of how Jesus lived and died on humanities behalf. There is no place for ego or pride in such an act of service. Without ego we are more likely to understand God’s plan and less likely to struggle against others when we want our own way.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

Not everyone in the Church is following God and some in the church will be immature in their relationship with him. This is where the division will find its home. Those of us who love God and are turning our lives over to his authority must also remember the second greatest commandment from Jesus. Remembering this will cool our anger and frustrations when disagreements show up.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV