Websters defines unity as: a condition of harmony, an accord; continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action); the quality or state of being made one For some reason the word unity seems like such a contemporary word, best used in the context of teamwork or global peace, or in an attempt to motivate behavior that results in a significant achievement. But in fact, Christ speaks to the act of unity in what I consider to be one of the strongest statements that He has for us during the final hours of His earthly ministry.
In John 17:20-23, (yes, I know, last week was to be the final thoughts on John, but this is too good to pass up!), Christ is found praying to the Father. Here he prays, "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—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."
In short, Christ is lifting each of us up in prayer. "WE" are the "those who will believe in me". And His desire for us is that we "may be one", "may also be in us (the Father and Son)", again, that we "may be one", and finally, that we "may be brought to complete unity." COMPLETE UNITY! Going back to the definition, that means complete harmony and without any deviation of purpose. To me this implies that we are never to be known by the conflict within our local fellowship, or the global body of Christ. That we are overwhelmingly described as harmonious in spirit and rarely viewed as bitter in disagreement. And note the measuring stick; "just as you are in me and I am in you." So our model is the relationship that Christ the son has with God the father. You think they would ever split over a style of music or interpretation of a non-essential doctrine?
So, why is it important that we work toward complete unity? How about verse 23; "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." Enough said.
The challenge is for believers to live this passage out. To commit to it as a church and consider its application across denominations and geographies. You might have noticed on the blog site I have this verse as one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it was after experiencing a very difficult church split, from an observers standpoint early in our marriage, that we were brought to this scripture. Christy and I believe strongly that we are called to share this message whenever possible and hold each other accountable to living it out. We are thankful for ROCC's church leadership and a congregation that prioritizes unity without compromising our core convictions.
"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.