20 “I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. 21 I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. 23 I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.
These verses are part of the moving prayer Jesus prayed for the disciples who were with Him, and for all future disciples, right before He was betrayed and arrested. He is praying that all who have faith in Jesus, will be united by God’s love, just as Jesus and God are united by love. More than ever, in the days after the crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples needed to rely on their faith in God. Without being united by faith and the love of Christ, the community of believers would fall apart. Then came the resurrection and the victory of God’s love for us over sin and death. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Kin-dom of God continued to grow and thrive. And this happens best when we are in community.
Like the Kin-dom of God we are in a state of becoming and not yet. We are not yet perfected in love. Filled with the Spirit we struggle to grow in faith and to love like Jesus. As children of God we are part of the endless flow of God’s love. Having heard and believed in Jesus, we are now part of the story of love’s redemptive work. We no longer sit on the side lines, but are pulled into the flow of what God is doing, the transforming work of turning this world into the ultimate community, the Kin-dom of God.
But can we as a community show love like Jesus? Are we not subject to division in-spite of Jesus’s commandment to love each other? Humans love to argue. When we choose to argue and take sides against the so called opposition, we work to convert them to our ideals, we work to subvert them and in the process we begin to hate them. Then all is lost because in hating them, we become haters ourselves. Where is the love of Christ in all of this? Where is our unity? Jesus didn’t say we have to agree on every point, otherwise we will tear the body of Christ apart. Jesus said we are to love each other as H loved us. We are either one in Christ, or we have failed. If we fail it is because we have relied on our human weakness and not relied on God.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Unity in the midst of division seems impossible to us, but not for God. It is Kin-dom work. In order for us to be “perfectly one” we need to focus on serving God and loving each other, not what divides us. This is the work of the Spirit within us. It’s hard work to love each other, but when we do it brings God glory. John Wesley, founder of Methodism said, “Though we can not think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
How does your faith community show God’s love to others, rather than focusing on division?
Prayer: Loving God, forgive us for creating division and not seeking unity in the love of your Spirit. Fill our hearts with your love that we may be perfectly one with you through Christ. Amen.