“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23 NIV)
Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John recounts the last recorded prayer of Christ before entering into the Garden of Gethsemane. During this prayer, Christ prayed first for himself that he be glorified by the Father as he had been in the beginning. Secondly, he prayed for his disciples and stated specifically he was not praying for the world but for those whom the Father had given him, those to whom he had spoken the words given to him by the Father. Jesus was speaking of his disciples, those who accepted who he was and that he had been sent of God into the world. His prayer for them was that they be protected by the Father from the evil one.
Lastly, Christ prayed, not for them alone, but for those who would believe in him through their message. This last part of his prayer was for us, for his church, for we are those who believe in him through the message of his disciples, through their words recorded in the Gospels and in their epistles. And his prayer for us? That all of us may be one, just as he and the Father are one. Christ lifted us up to the Father and said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Our risen savior’s final prayer before giving himself over to betrayal, to humiliation, and to death on the cross, was for us, that we be one. His prayer was not for any particular fellowship, for any particular denomination, nor was it for any particular nation or kingdom of this world, but rather it was for all who would believe in him through the message of his disciples. His prayer was that all of us be one, just as he and the Father are one.
The Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all three distinct and separate entities, filling distinct and separate roles in the life of the believer, and yet all three are one and indivisible. This was our Lord’s prayer for us, his hope for us, his plan and his vision for us, that we be one. In the local church, we can be separate individuals with separate roles and responsibilities. We can be teachers, cooks, deacons, ushers, we csan be housekeepers, elders, pastors, apostles, evangelists, worship leaders, choirs directors, secretaries, committee heads, or missionaries, and still be one, undivided, united in one accord.
Throughout the nations and the kingdoms of the world, we can be Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Assemblies, Foursquare, Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ, or independent believers; we can be full gospel, charismatic, evangelical, protestant, or Catholic and yet still we can be one. This was the prayer of Christ for us. And he would not have lifted this request before the Father if this was not in keeping with the Father’s will.
Lastly, for all of you who would read these words and who have faith in Christ to believe, please understand–this prayer was not just for the future believers in Israel or in the middle east. This prayer was not just for the Christians in the nations of Europe and Asia, nor was it just for the those attending the churches of the Americas, of Africa, of Australia, this prayer was for the entire church, for the body of Christ, for the bride of Christ, for every man, woman, and child across this globe who have made the confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he is our risen savior who died for our sins and by faith in him and repentance of our sin, we are forgiven.
His prayer, that we be brought to complete unity to let the world know he was sent by the Father who loves us even as he loved his only begotten son, was his plan for us. The time has come that we who are the recipients of this prayer, the final prayer of Christ before engaging the agony of the cross, that we make his final prayer our first priority, to become one, unified, in one accord in worship and in service to our King. Our citizenship is not here among the nations of this world but rather it is in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven with our primary allegiance due to the King of kings. And when we battle among ourselves within the local fellowships, or when we battle with one another along denominational lines, or across international borders, our actions are in direct opposition to this prayer and thus to God’s will. The time is now that we become the unified body of Christ, the church of the one true living God.
Lord Jesus, help us to recognize that as the church we are to be a kingdom, a single kingdom, of priests and prophets. We can be distinct and separate within our local fellowships, our denominational structures, and our worldly kingdoms; but we are to be one, united and indivisible in our service to one another, to the world, and to our one true sovereign King, you Lord, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Let us put aside those things that would divide us and hinder us, and let us stand united against the evils of this world and against the fallen enemy of your Kingdom. Help us to fulfill your prayer request that we be brought to complete unity to let the world know you were sent by the Father who has loved us even as he has love you. May we be where you are and may we see your glory. Amen.
Warriors of the Word International