Jesus prayed for unity
By Jim Boesch
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17: 20-23
One of Jesus’ hopes from His earthly mission was that His disciples would become one with each other. He wanted a unified witness to God’s love as shown through His mission, death and resurrection.
On the night before His execution, Jesus prayed that his disciples would be unified, protected and engaged in lives of holiness.
Just the disciples became one in Christ, so too are we called to be one in our time.
Our creator God, the one who formed and breathed life into all that exists, did not bring forth this vast array of diversity for the purpose of division, but rather for the sake of interdependent unity.
The diversity of these spiritual manifestations is a reflection of who God is, and who He wants His children to become.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Through Scripture, God has shown us many ways to exist together in His diversity:
Paul was a champion of this:
Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
This is so the body will not be divided into parts. All the parts care for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. If one part is given special care, the other parts are happy.
1 Corinthians 12:20-21, 25-2
While division is not part of God’s plan for unity, neither is conformity in which all must think, look and act the same. True unity is not achieved by sameness but by having the common mission and purpose to glorify Him and to build up others for His kingdom work.
Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!
1 Corinthians 12:29-30
If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.
1 Corinthians 12:17-20
Only through sustained servant leadership at the local church level will God’s plan for selfless, loving unity in this world come to fruition.
If we are to build upon our God breathed and inspired differences, it will be through Jesus Christ’s body, the church.
The lasting, transformational change that a hurting, fearful world is looking for today will only occur through the fulfillment of God’s vision of the local church being the hands and feet of Jesus taking the Good News to the streets.
I offer you today a suggested first step of simply gathering together in our churches, homes and communities. Do not gather in order to “fix,” “change,” or “amend.”
Gather to express a love for all of God’s creation with prayer for a willingness to be present and to listen to our brothers and sisters as we share our lives and seek God’s will for His Kingdom.
Gather as Christ’s Church united in mission and purpose.
I leave you with scripture that Paul penned to the church in Corinth as they struggled to find their way in fulfilling Jesus’ commands.
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:10-11
Gather and pray together.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men