Summary: We are all imperfect, yet Jesus prays for us to perfectly one. Here are some insights on how we can live in a more perfect oneness.
When we go to Alabama to see Maryanne’s family every summer, I often go to People’s Shoe Store. They sell Johnson and Murphy shoes at greatly reduced prices. The catch is that they sell their shoes “as is.” It’s a way to say that “these are damaged goods.” They sell Johnson and Murphy shoes that are slightly irregular or slightly used. They don’t tell you where the flaw is. You have to find it yourself. But you know it’s there. When you find the flaw, you can’t go running to the store whining about it.
One year, I bought a pair of shoes that I thought looked and felt were great. The only problem was that the soles kept coming off. I took them to a shoe repair shop and even they couldn’t get the soles to stay on.
There’s a fundamental rule when you buy from People’s Shoe Store. No returns. No refunds. No exchanges. If you were looking for perfection, you went to the wrong store. If you want the shoes, you must take them “as is.”
When you deal with human beings, you have some to the “as is” store of the universe. Think about someone in your life. Maybe the person you know the best and love the most. That person is “slightly irregular.” That person is flawed.
The sooner we accept and expect the fact that the people we live with are flawed, the better. Pastor John Ortberg says, “When we enter relationships with the illusion that people are normal, we resist the truth that they are not. We enter an endless attempt to fix them, control them, or pretend that they are what they are not. One of the great marks of maturity is to accept the fact that everybody comes ‘as is.’”
What is amazing is that Jesus desires that imperfect people be perfectly one. “Wait! I’m to be perfectly one with that imperfect husband who is so passive?” “Wait! I’m to be perfectly one with that imperfect wife who is so demanding?” “Wait! I’m to be perfectly one with those imperfect parents who are so angry?” “Wait! I’m to be perfectly one with that imperfect child who has developed such an attitude?” “Wait! I’m to be perfectly one with that imperfect Christian friend who is so wrong about so many things?”
In John 17 Jesus prays for us. He prays, “that they may become perfectly one.” I don’t think that He would have prayed this prayer if it were not possible. Think about your roughest relationships with people who are followers of Christ. It is possible for you to know a more perfect oneness than you now know.
Imperfect people; perfectly one
Text: John 17:23-24
Series: The defeat of friendly (and not-so-friendly) fire
Today, we are continuing this series: The defeat of friendly (and not-so-friendly) fire. Friendly fire is when a soldier is accidentally shot by one of his own soldiers.
On Saturday just two weeks ago, an Israeli soldier, Tom Dekel, was killed by mistaken fire from his own unit. He was sent on a mission to arrest Palestinian militants in a West Bank village. Other Israeli soldiers were already in the village fighting the Palestinians. The force already in the village mistook the newly called soldiers for militants and opened fire. Tom Dekel was killed by his friends.
Friendly fire is tragic when it happens on the battlefield. And it is tragic when it happens here at home – spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. It creates a sense of loneliness and hurt and confusion.
We know that friendly fire happens in marriages, in families, in businesses, in schools, and in churches virtually every day. I’m betting that you’ve been hit by friendly fire. It hurts, doesn’t it? We followers of Christ take spiritual, emotional, verbal, and theological potshots at each other all the time. It needs to stop.
Jesus was so passionate about seeing it stop, that He spent a good portion of the night before his death praying about the defeat of friendly fire. In verses 1-5, Jesus prays for Himself. In verses 6-19, He prays for the unity of His immediate followers. Finally, in verses 20-26, the Lord prays for all future followers. That means that He was praying for you and me – for imperfect people.
Jesus knew that we were formed for God’s family. He knew that one of God’s purposes for us was fellowship. That’s why He prayed that we would be
“perfectly one” (ESV). Imperfect people becoming perfectly one. That’s His heart. #13 The NIV puts it this way: “complete unity.” Another version calls it being “mature in this oneness.” Another version says it this way: “completely one.”
Last week, we focused on verses 20-22. We thought about…
… five questions to diagnose our commitment to build a community of unity