John 17 My Prayer For You Is To Be One.
In John chapter seventeen we find Jesus praying to the Father. He first prayed for Himself that the Father would glorify Him with the glory that He shared with the Father before the foundations of the world. Before the world existed, Jesus was because Jesus is God. After praying for Himself, Jesus took time to pray for the disciples. That the disciples would be one and that the Father would protect them. Jesus also prayed that Jesus’ joy would be complete in them and that they would be sanctified by the truth of God’s word.
After praying for the disciples, Jesus turned His attention to all of us that would come to faith by the testimonies of the disciples. We are all fruit of the labors of the original disciples. (I am not talking about apostolic succession through bishops) What it means is that they were faithful to the gospel of Christ by telling others about Christ and writing the New Testament for us. It is a result of their faithfulness that we have the gospel of Christ preserved and passed down to us for salvation.
As Jesus prayed for all future believers, two important topics emerge from verses 20-26.
“I pray not only for these but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation. Righteous Father! The world has not known You. However, I have known You, and these have known that You sent Me. I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.” John 17:20-26 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.17.20-26.hcsb )
The two topics of Jesus’ pray for us are:
1. That we would be one.
2. That the love of the Father would be in us and that Jesus would be in us.
Jesus prayed that we would be one, that we would have unity in our beliefs and relationships. Unity is an important topic in the Bible and is one area that we fail at the easiest. Most denominations fail to maintain fellowship and the reasons are too numerous to list here, but the two simplest ones to identify are 1. Claiming that the other groups are teaching false doctrine when it is a minor theological issue and not a major theological issue. 2. Fear of losing members to other churches.
We must notice why Jesus prayed that we would have unity. Jesus prayed for unity so that “the world may know that You have sent Me.” Jesus wants the universal church to be one so that the world would know that He is the Son of God. It is hard to be a faithful witness when we are fighting among ourselves. There are reasons to not fellowship with some people. Like if they are claiming that Jesus is not the Son of God, or that Jesus didn’t really die and rise again. Then we are right to not fellowship with them because they are not believers in Christ. If they have a different view on free will or election, that is not a reason to end fellowship. Jesus wants us to be united so that we can take the gospel to the ends of the world and lead others to faith in Christ. It’s time to bring unity back to the universal church.
The second thing that Jesus prayed for is what is going to make the prayer for unity possible. Jesus prayed that the love of the Father would be in us and that Christ would be in us. This is the only way to have unity! Is to be in the love of the Father. If we don’t have the love of the Father we will never be able to love others in the church. As I have been reading and studying about deconstructionism one of the reasons given is a difference in politics and a lack of showing love within the church. As I read these accounts they make some valid claims, but at the same time, there is a hint of self-righteousness in their actions. Nobody is perfect and we have to remain in the love of the Father to be enabled to live in unity. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). If we remained in the Father’s love we would be able to fellowship with people that differ from us. Having Christ in us is what enables us to remain in the Father’s love.
From today’s passage, we should seek unity among fellow believers of every Christian denomination that believes in the foundational tenants of Christianity; Trinity, the gospel of Jesus, the Bible, salvation through faith in Jesus, and that Jesus is God. Examples of things that we can disagree on but still have fellowship are the process of creation, speaking in tongues, worship styles, method of evangelism, etc. It was important to Jesus that we have unity, so much that He prayed that we would be one four times in these passages. Remain in Christ so that you can remain in the Father’s love and be one with all other believers.