When Jesus was approaching the cross, He prayed a fascinating prayer. This prayer was for His disciples, and some of His statements have really challenged my faith.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me … 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 know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17:20-23 ESV).
Jesus prayed that the unity of His followers would be equal to the oneness of the Father and Son! He wants you and me to be one just as the Father and Son are united. Have you ever considered pursuing this type of unity with your church?
Do you even believe this is possible?
Let me keep going with this. Jesus’ prayer was not that we would just get along and avoid church splits. His prayer was that we would become “perfectly one.” He prayed this because our oneness was designed to be the way to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus said the purpose of our unity was “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them.”
For some of us, that prayer doesn’t make sense. How could our unity result in the world’s belief? How could seeing us love each other make someone believe that Jesus truly came from Heaven? It feels like saying two plus two equals a thousand. Just remember that Scripture is filled with impossible equations. Marching around a city seven times doesn’t seem like it would result in its walls collapsing, but then it happened (see Joshua 6). Church unity doesn’t seem like it would result in people getting saved, but it actually did happen (Acts 2:44–47). They were united and the result was people being saved.
Scripture is clear: there is a real connection between our unity and the believability of our message. If we are serious about winning the lost, we must be serious about pursuing unity. Philippians 1:27-28 reiterates the message, promising that: our fearless unity is “a clear sign to [those who oppose Christians] of their destruction!” We are living in a time when very few people believe in the wrath of God. Even the evilest people we know have no fear of a literal judgment day. Have you ever tried to convince someone of their future destruction? It’s not a simple task. Yet Scripture tells us that our fearless unity will convince them.
When are we going to take these promises seriously and spend our energy seeking unity? Not just the kind of unity where we avoid arguments with each other, but the kind where we truly live together as a family. Unity doesn’t come easily. Think of everything it takes for a family to stay together – all the acts of service it requires, all the forgiveness and grace, all the times when one person’s desires have to be lovingly laid aside for the desires of others. It’s easy to talk about unity, but it requires a kind of mutual commitment that is all but absent from our churches. If we’re going to see this become a reality, we need to count the cost and decide if we will commit. Obedience often grates against our natural desires. What often results from obedience, however, is unexpected blessing.
Do we trust that His design for His church is what will be most effective? Do we believe God is capable? We have come up with countless strategies to reach the lost when God promises that unity is the method that will work. Think about that: God gave us instructions on how to reach the world, yet we abandon the one set of instructions He gave us.
Francis Chan is a passionate speaker of Christ, acclaimed author, and former pastor/founder of Cornerstone Church in California.
Letters to the Church by Francis Chan, © 2018. Used by permission of David C. Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.
If you would like one of our anointed prayer ministers to support you as you lift your voice in prayer, please click on the link below.
US / Canada:
UK / International:
+44 (0) 84 5683 0584
You can watch our powerful programming on either Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, via livestream at ini.tv/livestream, or on the Inspiration TV mobile app — click here for all the ways to watch!