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Devotions > What is unity?

12 Aug 2014

The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in John Chapter 17, and is often referred to as His high priestly prayer.    In His final hours with His disciples, before His brutal death, Jesus prayed for His highest priorities, those things that were/are critical for the completion of His ministry.  Of course Jesus is continuing to pray for all those who authentically call Him Lord, but in this case we have recorded the very words of His prayer for our instruction. 

In consideration of the importance of this prayer we should take into account the words of Dr. Warren Wiersbe addressing this prayer:         “ …. this much is sure; it is the greatest  prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer recorded in scripture.”    As we attempt to continue to learn about prayer and how to pray, we should doubtless ask ourselves  …. what can we learn from this powerful and perfect prayer?

Jesus’ first petition was for Himself.  But his appeal was not self serving.   He prayed that God would glorify Him in order that He might glorify His Father.    While we have no way of knowing the details of many of the prayers of Jesus it seems that the nature of this first request was not out of the ordinary for Jesus.  In other words it would appear that this kind of prayer, the kind that asks God to work in ways that would result in God receiving glory would have been a regular and repeated pattern of prayer for Jesus.   How about your daily prayers?   Are you praying daily that God will do whatever it takes in your life and through your life to bring glory to Himself?   How strong is your passion for God’s glory?

After praying for Himself, Jesus begins a series of petitions for His disciples.  There is much to observe from these prayers but we will constrain ourselves today to one single perspective: unity.  Jesus prayed that the disciples would be one as He and the Father are one.   His two initial prayers:  a. God would protect them by the power of His Name and b. that the Father would keep them safe from the evil one.

While at first glance these requests of Jesus do not seem to be related to the idea of unity.  However after a bit more thought from the perspective of a battle, a cosmic battle raging in the heavens, we may see this matter differently.   It becomes clear that if we are not protected we cannot remain one with Jesus and the Father and likewise we cannot remain in unity with our brother and sister disciples.   Let’s consider this related in the context of an army.  If a particular soldier is captured or even just wounded in battle this soldier is no longer one with his unit, but is separated by either a prison camp or a hospital.   This of course is Satan’s goal to kill or wound but if not to certainly separate.   Not unlike some of the most brilliant military strategies conceived in the minds of men.

Jesus outlines in this prayer and in other passages that He has done everything, said everything, and acted in every way precisely and always in accordance with the will and direction of His Father.   This of course makes this prayer the most perfect prayer known to man, and additionally it clearly shows us the intense desire of Jesus for those who have chosen to follow Him to experience the unity and victory that are intrinsic in oneness with Jesus, oneness with the Father and with our fellow disciples.  Oneness in our spiritual journey is very much like oneness in a military campaign, it is required for victory.

John 15:5 (NASB95) 

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

When we think of this oneness bringing victory it is easy to see why Jesus clearly communicated in His prayer that unity in the body brings glory to God.   Of course we can destroy unity voluntarily.   There are actions and attitudes executed by those in the military services described as insubordination, mutiny and desertion.    These attitudes or actions destroy unity.  These very same attitudes and actions can exist in valid ways in the heart of a rebellious “follower “of Jesus destroying the unity in the body of Christ.

 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.

Why does the Church have such a mild and meager influence upon the communities in which she resides?   Is it perhaps in part that we are actually participating in mutiny against the Captain of our Souls as we preserve attitudes and promote actions  that separate us from other authentic believers in the Lord Jesus Christ?

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. 

As we consider the words of Jesus above it appears that the depth of our real experienced and demonstrated unity can be measured by the understanding of the world. Does your world understand that the Father sent Jesus into this world and that He loves the disciples of Jesus to the same extent that He loves His very own Son?   Is our unity as the Bride of Jesus bringing a strong testimony to our world?

John 17:26 (AMP) 26 I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them.

Perhaps love is the driving force behind the creation of all true unity.  Could it be that love is at the same time the end result of authentic unity?    Love and unity are virtually inseparable companions.  It seems they are at the same time the cause and the prize of victory in the cosmic battle in which we participate.   Jesus prays that we would experience His love to the extent of unity and enjoy the amazing fruit of the matchless love which flows from unity with Him.

God has done His part well.   He has provided all we need to live in unity with Him and with each other.   But how are we doing with our part?   Are you serious about seeking and maintaining unity?  Consider asking God to reveal anything in your life that would despoil unity with the Father and with His own.   

Jeff Williams