“I do not pray only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me.” ~John 17:20-23
I pray that the gravity of Jesus’ prayer would strike our minds and pierce our hearts; I hope that His words alone will bind our hearts in irrecoverable conviction for unity!
This unity is a witness to the world of God in Christ! It is a witness of faith, of glory, and of abiding!
Jesus did not ask God that we would have the appearance of unity; He asked God to make us perfectly one! And He asked God to apply His glory to this cause!
UNITY IN OBEDIENCE, NOT MYSTERY
“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” ~Deuteronomy 29:29
The great mysteries of God are His- His inner workings, reasons, and hidden counsels- they all belong to Him exclusively. But, the revelation of His divine will belongs to His children for obedience. Unity among the Church thrives in obedience to God’s revealed will.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I would neither discourage anyone from thinking deeply on the wondrous mysteries of God nor despise prophetic utterances (1 Thess. 5:20); when we come to our Father in the secrecy of our prayer closet, we are consumed with worship, admiration, and love in the glory and wonder of God! And the prophetic utterances of the Holy Spirit are the timely expression directly into our life of God’s love and will. I do not see holding fast to the sound doctrine of God’s word as in any way opposed to the mysteries of God or the current moves of the Holy Spirit; in fact, I see the former as a necessary prerequisite to the latter.
I am talking about when these contemplations become the teachings of the Church and a motive in our heart to look down on others who do not see the mysteries of God the same way as we do. This always brings division! It always diminishes fellowship! Just consider how many Church splits have occurred because someone introducing the speculations of men into the Church, or how many brothers have been distanced because speculations about the mysteries of God took precedence over their drive to do the will of God. And the same can be said of doctrinal teachings that are divorced from obedience in the Church; just think about how many Church divisions have occurred because someone was trying to get out of simple obedience to the doctrine that was clearly delivered to us by the apostles.
Unity and fellowship flourishes in the environment of obedience to the revelation of God’s divine will; His word was never intended to entertain and titillate our academic curiosities or to be subjected to the judgments of our divisive speculations; it was given to us for obedience to the heart of God’s divine will.
AS I AM IN YOU AND YOU ARE IN ME
Jesus prayed that we would all be one, even as the Father and He are one. It was Jesus who was “about His Father’s business”, whose “food is to do the will of the Father”, and who “did nothing of my own will”.
Jesus said, “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50).
Jesus walked on this earth in unity with the Father from a position of absolute humility, as it is written, “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted him…” (Philippians 2:8-9).
Therefore, brethren, let me offer this exhortation to “purify our souls in obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection” and “love one another from the heart fervently: having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23), and let us rejoice in knowing that “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Nothing is impossible for God. Genuine unity and fellowship among brethren of diverse backgrounds, even of diverse doctrinal persuasions, is wholly possible where souls that have been purified in obedience to the truth through the Holy Spirit in brotherly affection exists. If we will walk in the light, we will have fellowship with one another.
Certainly as God moves to answer Christ’s petition for unity among us who believe, Satan also moves to offer a counterfeit unity; there is a cup of abominations being mixed in the name of unity by which people all around us are being made drunk with tolerance and filthiness, rather than being filled with the Spirit in love and holiness. Have no doubt, Christian unity does not exclude the separation of holiness that we’re called to by Christ (2 Cor. 6:11-7:1)!
My hope and desire is that our hearts will be stirred up for true unity and fellowship in the body of Christ, and that we will be strengthened in love for patience with one another so that we will no longer look to the default position so many have taken in the past of distancing ourselves from those who we are called by the love of God to be one with!
Meaningful fellowship will thrive in obedience to the truth! Even if there are certain brothers and sisters who you can share a deeper experience of fellowship with as you worship God in His mysteries, perfect fellowship is accomplished by God among all who walk in the light!
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ abound to us all!