Months ago we got this idea to bicycle across OK to promote unity in the Kingdom of God by hosting prayer events in the rural communities we cycled through. Little did we know that our ride would end up in the tail winds of horrific incidents of violence, division and injustice days before we started. Now, the need for unity in a world increasingly ripped apart by evil seems more apparent than ever. But from where and how will this unity come?
“I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent Me . . . “ – John 17:23
These words, prayed by Jesus hours before His unjust crucifixion, were for every human being, regardless of race or background, fault or failure, who would embrace His call to follow Him as their Lord and Messiah. As a Christian I’m convicted by the implications of His prayer.
One, unity among “Christians” is a big deal to God. As the Christ, it was one of the last things He prayed for before His death. Especially significant is that Christian unity would be a proof of Jesus’ divinity and Lordship to the world. Based on our present level of unity as “Christians,” what’s the world’s assessment of Jesus’ claims of Lordship?
Two, if Christian unity is a big deal to God then it should be an equally big deal to us who claim to follow Jesus. Is it? How many public prayers have you heard for the unity of all who claim to follow Christ? How much effort are we making to be unified “so that the world may know?”
Three, Christian unity is a supernatural event. If it wasn’t, why is Jesus praying for the Father’s help? In imitation of Jesus, prayer is the first step towards becoming “perfectly one’ so that the world may know.” Prayer positions us in humility to better see the blind spots and obstacles to unity that as His followers we contribute to our disunity.
Four, unity originates in God, is initiated in humanity through Christ’s death and resurrection, and brought to completion through the Holy Spirit in our surrender to His influence as Christ’s followers.
Jesus began the greatest unity movement the world has ever known with prayer followed by sacrificial action. As His disciples, it’s time we did the same.