Summary: A call for unity in the church.
We like Jesus’ original disciples still have to live in this world. Have you ever wonder exactly what is “the world”? It is a system of values typified by Satan himself, centered on greed, power, deceit and self-will. While we are in the world Satan desires to do everything he can to destroy, neutralize and render us totally ineffective for the cause of Christ. The Church today finds itself on a collision course with the world’s values. This causes us to need the Lord’s protection more than ever as it is so increasingly easy to begin to adopt some of the world’s values as our own. The fact that we are in the world does not grant us the license to live like the world. We must never put ourselves in the position where we betray Jesus by loving the ways of the world. More than ever we need to open our minds and hearts to let Jesus define who we and the church are not the world. Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples to resemble what He and the Father have. Jesus knew exactly why this unity was of such vital importance. Because where there are clichés, where there is competition between the churches, the cause of Christ is harmed. As we read this prayer in our text we quickly come to the conclusion that we have done more to frustrate this particular prayer of our Lord then any other He prayed. The Gospel can not be truly presented where there are divisions. Ministry can not be effective where the people are not united. One wise man put it this way, “How can a fighting, bickering and divided group of people take a message of love and unity with any credibility into a world that displays those same characteristics?” If we want the church to become all that the Lord intended it to be, then we need to unite around Jesus Christ. Today let’s discover in our text the essentials for unity in the through Christ’s example.
I. Christians should be one in love.
A. Jesus set the example by the great love He had for His own.
1. The disciples had been given to Jesus by the Father. The gift was irrevocable and the Father was able to guarantee it.
2. The disciples were not perfect, but they had the right commitment. Their faith in Jesus was a trust in His union with the Father.
3. They had to stay in the world to carry out God’s plan in spreading the good news of redemption and in planting the church.
4. Jesus shows His great love for the disciples as He prays for the protection of the disciples. Without his constant companionship and leadership, they will need to lean upon God with complete faith.
5. Jesus prayed not only for the safety of the disciples but also that they might have joy in spite of the coming conflict.
B. The unity of the church must spring from the common life that is imparted to all believers by the new birth; and it is manifested in their common love for Christ and for one another as they face a hostile world.
1. The unity of the Son and the Father was manifested in the deep love that each sustained for the other and by the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father and the perfect response of the Father to the Son.
2. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt the God loves all the people of the world but this prayer was focused on disciples.
3. The church needed discover this perfect unity in love if they had any hope of accomplishing the mission for which they had been called. (1 John 4:19-21)
4. As we are all united to the same Christ, we are all part of the same family.
5. As Christians we should display the same unconditional love for people as the Lord has displayed.
II. Christians should be one in prayer.
A. We must be a people of prayer.
1. This is so much more than a casual blessing over a meal.
2. Unfortunately we often think of prayer as emergency only, when our back is against the wall and there is no where to turn.
3. Prayer needs to be an expression of our helplessness, and an awareness of a need that can only be met by God.
4. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
B. Lessons we can learn about prayer from Christ’s example.
1. The title "Holy Father" is unusual and is comparable to the phrase "Righteous Father" that appears in verse 25. The holiness of God contrasts with the selfishness and evil of the world that confronted the disciples.