“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” – John 17:20–21.
On the last night of His life, Jesus prayed a prayer in John 17 that stands as a model for all Christians. Jesus, knowing the end is near, prays one final time for His followers. But something interesting stands out in that prayer. He didn’t pray for their success, their safety, or their happiness. He prayed for their unity. He prayed that they would love each other. As He prayed for them, He also prayed for “who will ever believe in me through their message.” That means each of us who are Christians. In His last prayer, Jesus prayed that you and I be one.
Unity matters to God. Why? Because “…when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” (John 13:35 TPT). Jesus’ message was I am leaving and you all need to serve, rely on and support each other.
Unity isn’t just a nice bonus or a Christian buzzword. Unity is something to fight for. Why? Because there are some important benefits of unity in the church. Unity enriches our lives: Each of us stands to benefit from being part of a unified church. We’re weak on our own, but we’re much stronger together. When we’re unified with other believers, we can learn more, grow more and enjoy the type of community God designed us to be a part of.
In addition, unity fosters belief while disunity fosters disbelief. Who would want to go into battle with a group of soldiers who can’t agree on anything? Or race to put out a fire with a group of bickering firefighters. You wouldn’t. Nor would you be interested in hearing the gospel from a group of people that don’t seem to be united on the subject themselves. When Christians are fighting with each other, it can hurt our witness with unbelievers. When we commit to church unity, we create a beautiful picture for the world of what it looks like to love others as Christ does. Shouldn’t unity be the key to reaching the world for Christ? As Paul said, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
A unified church is one of the strongest evidences of the truth of the gospel. This is especially true in a world as fragmented and divisive as ours. When the world can’t seem to agree on anything or bear to be around people who are different, a church where natural enemies become siblings in Christ is a powerful alternative. When we’re unified, we bring glory to our Father who desires to see His people living in close fellowship with each other.
- How would you describe the power and impact of unity? When or where have you experienced that?
- What can you do to become more of a force for unity?