Jesus’ greatest desire is that we’d all be one. Just as the Father and the Son are one.
He prayed this for us and for all believers in John 17: 20-23.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 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. 23 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.”
Jesus wanted us to experience such perfect unity not just so we can be happy and feel good. He wanted us to be one so that we’d show the world how much God loves them!
So, it seems like it’s a pretty big deal that we believers should experience this unity that comes through oneness in order to complete God’s mission, but what happens when we aren’t one? What do we do to short circuit the oneness Jesus desires for us and keeps us from perfect unity?
Digging deeper into John chapter 17 and the intercessory prayer of Jesus, here are some clues that might help:
Oneness does not happen when we are not glorifying God together.
I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.John 17:4-5
John 17:4 says that Jesus brought glory to God by completing the work the Father gave Him to do. We also should be doing the same. We glorify God when we accomplish the work He gave us to do. If we get side tracked or distracted or lazy, we’re not going to get the work done. When we are divided and get focused on our own thing, we won’t experience oneness and unity dissolves. God won’t be glorified by this.
Oneness does not happen when get out from under the protection of His Name
Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.John 17:11
I never noticed this before. God protects us by the power of His Name, and when He protects us, unity develops. We cheat ourselves out of unity with each other when we get out from under that protection. How do we get out from under God’s protection? Sin. Unrepentance. Rebellion. When we disobey, we’re stepping out from under the covering of God’s protection. That doesn’t mean we are lost to Him, but rather, we’ve unclothed ourselves from His armor. We are certainly disconnected our fellowship with God, and we’ve most certainly disconnected our unity with others.
Oneness does not happen when we are part of the world.
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.John 17:14-17
We are not supposed to belong to this world. And, the world is not supposed to be part of us. When we do become more attached to this world, and we love the things and ideals the world has to offer, it diminishes and deteriorates our ability to be one. Jesus gave us the remedy to being part of the world. He gave us the vaccine that prevents us from getting infected by the world. He gave us his word. God sets us apart (makes us holy) when we learn, know, digest, and soak in His word which is truth (vs 17). When we get away from His word, we become susceptible to the lies and the deception of the world. Would this even contribute to getting out from under the protection of His Name? Oneness is certainly sacrificed when we forget that we do not belong to this world.
When Oneness does not happen, people won’t believe in God or His love.
We come back to verse 23-
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.
The primary way the world and people around us will believe that Jesus is their Savior and believe in the love He has for us is by our unity. Our oneness with each other declares God’s love in a way that no program or event can. We can produce and create lots of great stuff in our church services and in our programs, but without oneness, we won’t have unity, and we can’t complete the work God has call us to do!
How can you develop more oneness with believers? What’s keeping your from experiencing perfect unity?
Here are some resources that may help. Please check them out.
As we prepare for Easter and the coming celebration of the Resurrection, let’s use the words Jesus prayed for all of us to be one so we can experience His glory, His protection while we fulfill His mission to bring all people to Him!