John 17 once again. I’m going through verses 20-26. Jesus’ prayer is so important to me. We see here a glimpse of what He longs for in His church. I really want to understand what He is praying, and even for me in this passage, so that I can live up to what He desires. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I can answer His prayer. But God can work through me to answer what He prayed for. This is important and necessary as a Christ-follower to understand. With His prayer beginning by proclaiming the strong desire (and that word doesn’t even give it justice) for God wanting a relationship with me, I can come to a point in understanding what He desires for His church and for me to do as His child, as one sharing in the glory of Christ, as one continuing His purpose and mission He began on earth.
Unity. We long for it. People do anything for it. And I think the church looks for it too. But the unity isn’t found in the methods or styles, but in the relationship we share with God in Christ. We all have our likes and dislikes. There will always be differing opinions. And because of Jesus, we should all be on the same side. If unity fails in the church, so does our witness. People can’t believe in a divided cause or find comfort from the hurt the world gives in a place where peace does not exist. Breaking off from what we don’t agree on is an easy thing to do. It’s tempting. But God calls us to live in peace with one another; to do all we can to live and establish the bond of peace. The church has long been known as the Bride of Christ. One Bride, not multiple. Even Jesus mentioned that divided kingdom cannot stand. Disrupting unity is a weapon of the enemy. We have something in common–relationship with Jesus. Focus on growing that and unity has more than just a chance. Could you imagine the witness and impact God’s church would have on the world if we all held on to the unity of the Love of God?!
Finally, at the end of the prayer, the mission continues in us as the revealers of God’s love to the world. Jesus finished His work and now we are to continue it. We’re not alone but united in the love of God. The relationship we share and that He came to establish with us through the cross is simply the greatest realization we could ever know.
Jesus mentions something even more miraculous: God’s love living in us. Jesus living in us. The deeper we get in our relationship with God, the love continues to grow and the more we become a true representation of the gospel to the world. I can see an example of this in my marriage. I love my wife and my wife loves me. The more we love each other, we become aware of likes and dislikes, of personalities and how we can bring joy to each other. And everyone around us can see the love we share with one another and that we belong to each other. Same with God. The more we love each other, or the more we come to understand God’s love for us, the more we grow in our love for Him, and He becomes more evident in our lives. We learn how to bring Him joy and take joy in the gift He has given. The world can see that we belong to God. Imagine the church so lost in the love of God, found in unity because of Jesus revealing God to us!
One more thing before I end this post. I have to be honest. This whole prayer seems to stem from the first few sentences on the importance of the relationship with God. It’s what God wants with us. It’s why He created us. I’m not sure if I’m to a place where I completely understand its importance, but now I know. I’ve known for a while. I want to know more.
It seems like the glory Jesus is talking about throughout this prayer is the relationship that has now been established because of the cross. Then He mentions seeing Him in His glory. I want that. But the glory we share because of the glory of the cross brings the display of faith, or evidence of faith, out to its fullest because we don’t see Him now. What a reward to receive! To finally, after the grueling years of life on this earth, having spent a lifetime or just a few years in the glory of the relationship, can we see the glory of God in a physical way! I want that! Oh the sin that has entangled this life of mine from fully coming to a close relationship with my Father! It’s time to grow! It’s time!
…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1b-3 NIV)
When it gets tough, even though I’m still in the world, I must remember I’m not a part of it but separate. If I don’t think it’s possible to overcome, remember that Jesus went to the cross and overcame. If I think I’m alone in the struggle, remember there’s a large group of people who’ve already gone through this and have now received the glory Jesus was talking about. When I lose my focus, remember that Jesus died for this relationship with me, and no one else has ever done that. If God valued me so much as to allow His only Son to go to the cross to pay the price for my relationship with Him, all the more should I value His love and purpose for me! I’m united with Christ! Church, unite in the love!