“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one…” (John 17:21a NLT)
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression: “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” My wife “shines” on many fronts. She’s beautiful, smart, deeply loves her family and is committed to the Lord and His Church. But, to me, one of my wife’s most distinguishing and endearing qualities is – she’s an awesome cook. We sometimes eat out, but I rarely eat a meal that is as good as what I get at home. I believe it’s safe to say, I prefer my wife’s cooking. The fact is, I prefer my wife.
Life is filled with preferences, not only in what we eat, but in virtually every area of our lives. We have automobile preferences, political, clothing, housing, animal, people as well as religious preferences. The list is virtually endless. But at the end of the day our preferences are just that – preferences. What’s my point?
If we’re not extremely careful, we’ll slowly allow our preferences to become “law” and expect others to conform to what we believe to be “the best.” So, what began as a simple preference now becomes an expectation of others. We see this in government, in schools, businesses, families and in the Church. What’s the end result? Division! The devil’s playground.
In John 17 we see Jesus’ final prayer before He’s betrayed, tortured and murdered. I believe the theme of His prayer is reflected in verses 21-23: “I pray that they (us) 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.” (NLT)
What did Jesus mean when He said “I have given them the glory you gave Me?” Psalm 19:1 (NLT) says: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.” This same theme is echoed in Psalm 97:6 (NLT): “The heavens proclaim His righteousness; every nation sees His glory.” What’s my point? Jesus gave US His glory, the glory the Father had given Him. WE (every Christ-follower worldwide) are the outward, physical display of Christ’s presence on earth, in much the same way as Jesus was the embodiment of the Father in human flesh while He was on earth.
If those apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus are ever going to find Him, they must see His “glory” revealed and evidenced in the individual and corporate lives of those of us who profess His holy name. Unity, our oneness with God, and the oneness of God’s people, is a picture of the Father’s love for His Son when we yield our preferences to God and let Jesus shine through our love and devotion to Him and to one another, not simply in OUR church preference, but in the corporate family of God worldwide.
Blessings, Ed 😊