Summary: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” Jn. 17:20
Theme: Unity: In unity we please God
Text: Ps. 133:1-3; Eph. 4:1-13; John 17:20-26
In John 17 Jesus presents the blueprints of His programme for the Church. The highlight was the unity of His disciples. Unity is a concept that is referred to throughout Scripture. It is not a concept conceived by God; it is the very nature of God. The triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three different persons yet united as one. God created man in His own image and likeness and human beings as triune beings are spirit, soul and body. We are spirit beings who possess a soul and live in a body. Further God created Eve because it was not good for the man to be alone and God not only united Adam and Eve with each other but also with Himself. Unity is important to God.
Unity is the source of strength. We all know how easy it is to break a single broomstick and how impossible to break a full one. In Ecclesiastics Solomon declares “A threefold strand is not easily broken”. Unity is towards a specific goal and ensures there is commitment to achieve that goal. Unity, commitment and a specific goal is a recipe for success.
At the building of the Tower of Babel God testified to the power of unity. “Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” Gen. 11:4-6. God was displeased because of the motive. It was not to glorify God but to make a name to glorify themselves. It was said of the titanic, “Even God cannot sink this ship”. The ship built with the latest technology of the day sank on its maiden voyage. Unity without God cannot lead to any lasting success. Unity with God leads to lasting success. The harm inflicted on mankind at Babel was only reversed at Pentecost when God was the focus of their unity.
Jesus prayed for the unity of believers and His prayer was answered. The gospel unites all believers. We are saved by grace through faith. Every believer is born into the Kingdom of God and becomes a child of God. This is possible because of the death and resurrection of Christ. He paid the penalty for sin with His shed blood and through a divine exchange made all that belonged to Him as the Son of God available to us. Our spirit is recreated and made righteous and this enables us to manifest Christ’s nature and character. We know our human spirit has been recreated righteous because it becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can only reside in a righteous spirit.
At salvation we are made righteous. Man is spirit, possesses a soul and lives in a body. At salvation our human spirit is made righteous. This righteousness gives us access to the Father and makes us joint heirs with Christ. Just as the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, so are we in Christ. We have become His beloved children and God loves us just as He loves Christ. But we still have a soul and a body that has not changed yet. The two have been used to doing what is contrary to God’s will and need to be brought to do what is according to the will of God. Paul says we are to renew the mind. We have been made like Christ. “As he is so also are we in this world” 1 John 4:17. God loves us just as much as He loves Christ and we should believe His words just as Christ believed.
Prayer is necessary to sustain and maintain unity. Prayer is to the believer’s spiritual life what oxygen is to the human body. Without prayer, just as without oxygen, human beings cannot survive. Our intimacy with God is reflected by the time we spend with Him in prayer. The unity of the Father and the Son manifested the nature and character of the Father in the Son. The result was that the lame walked, the blind received their sight, and spiritual captives were set free. Our unity with Christ manifests the nature and character of Christ in us. Fellowship sustains and maintains unity as it promotes the study of the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The Word of God renews the mind and determines a walk that is in accordance with the truth. The Word of God reveals God’s will to spread the gospel. Believers are entrusted with the task of advancing the kingdom of God.