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May They Be One: Oneness Between Christians from The Glory

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I pray not only for these,
But also for those who believe in Me through their message.
May they all be one,
As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us,
So the world may believe You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You have given Me.
May they be one as We are one.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
So the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
-John 17:20-23 (HCSB)

In my previous post, I wrote about how the marker of Christians is that they love one another (John 13:5).  There are many things a Christian does, but loving fellow Christians is something Jesus commands us to do and says that the world will know he is real because of that love.

Three chapters later, in John, Jesus is in the garden of gethsemane, praying.  One of his prayers to Father is the one above where he prays, "that they may be one... completely one, so that the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me."

This is similar to his command to, "love one another, that everyone would know that you are my disciples", in John 13.  We have love, and thereby, oneness.  We are one because of our love.

The kicker is that this word, from Jesus, is for Christians today.  We can not read this in a detached manner, as if we are reading interesting history  We can not be entertained, enlightened, or taught and remain passive.  Because Jesus is praying about us.

We have to ask ourselves, "how is the answer to Jesus prayer taking shape in his church today?"
"I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.  May they be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You."  
Are we one, not just spiritually, but practically, with all the other Christians?
"May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me."
If we can love each other, then we can have a witness to the world.  If we can not love each other, taking God's love to each other and becoming one with all other Christians, then we will not be a witness for of Christ to the world.

The opposite of oneness, being made completely one with the whole church, is sectarianism.  Sectarian Christians lead with what they divide over, rather than unify over what they are one in.

Do we Christians identify ourselves with our special brand, or do we identify ourselves with our savior who is the savior of all Christians?  Are we preoccupied with our name or the namesake of all Christians?

We can become so enamored with or proud of our brand that we lose sight of the whole.  We define ourselves by ourselves rather than by our savior.

It is easy to become a member, congregant, or seat filler of a church, but much harder to be a Christian.  Christians follow a person, die to themselves, take up their crosses, and leave everything to be his disciple.

Christians see themselves as members of the whole body of Christ, welcoming diversity and infinite creativity.  Fellowship is based on Christ.  We gather in Christ.  Every tradition is flexible and expendable.  But The Lord Jesus Christ and his words are the rock and foundation of our lives.

Sectarianism is the enemy of God's mission in Christ through his people.  Being one and honoring all the creative expressions that God has in his people and being many but one is part of God's ministry to save a broken world.

The church and it's gatherings should be the most creative, spontaneous, and most open place to fresh ideas in the whole world.  If part of God's essential nature is creativity, then mankind will worship the creator creatively.  The church should be the cradle of the most creative artistic expressions of worship.

There is false unity and true unity.  Spiritual unity is not uniformity.  Every church grouping can and will be different.  The oneness that the church needs to have is not based on homogenization but on the glory of Christ:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just as we are one." (John 17:22 ISV)
The oneness or unity of the whole church comes from the glory of Christ.  "It's the glory!"  The antichrist, false unity plan does not have as it's impetus, the glory.  The glory is not doctrine or a belief, but the unspoken manifestation of God.

The artwork above is by Jeffrey Hanson.


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