Daily D – John 17:20-23
John 17:20-23 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jn 17:20–23.
This past week I attended a training event in Atlanta, Georgia. We met in the conference facility of Peachtree Presbyterian Church. The CEO of the team leading the conference called The Collective is Presbyterian. The two men who created this team are Southern Baptists. One of the new team leaders was the director of spiritual formation for the Foursquare denomination.
Other key leaders on the team come from the Evangelical Free denomination, Bible Church, and other evangelical traditions. Attendees at the conference included individuals and teams from Southern Baptist, Bible Church, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other Christian denominations.
The group enjoyed worshiping together, learning together, and praying together. At one point late in the week, someone noted the amazing unity in the room. What was the center and focus of the unity?
Each day as we closed the training, we gathered together around the stage. On the first day, we repeated together the Apostles’ Creed and received a blessing as we departed. The next day we sang the Doxology. On the final day, we sang the first verse of Amazing Grace. These were powerful moments. So rich and deep was the bond of peace and the spirit of unity, it was almost impossible not to weep.
I believe Jesus’ prayer was answered in those moments and again as we parted to return to our homes and places of ministry and mission.
D. A. Carson is a theologian a small group of us doctoral students got to spend a few hours with years ago. He is a gracious and wise gentleman. In his commentary on this text, he says in part,
D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 568.
“Unity is meant to be observable.” Unity is one of those realities hard to plan but easy to recognize by its presence or absence.
Worship begins soon for the gathered members of the church we attend. Joy will fill my soul as we gather together and sing praise, as we seek God’s will and way, and as we humbly pray in response to what we hear him say.
This prayer of Jesus is altogether too much ignored. Unity is altogether too much avoided. The blessing of worship and work with others who love Jesus as we do enriches our lives, emboldens our efforts, and emulates those first disciples who saw the crucifixion, who recognized our risen Lord, who heard his commission, who viewed his ascension, and who received his Spirit.
Their unity in Jesus turned the world right side up.
Here is a good prayer for this Sunday: Please give us unity that is observable in its essence and powerful in its effects.
I will seek true unity in Jesus with all who call on his name in sincerity and truth.
Our Father, please give us unity that is observable in its essence and powerful in its effects. Use our united efforts to turn this world right side up. You have done it before. Please do it again. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”