In our reading today we find Jesus discussing in great length what is about to happen to Him. While He discusses it in great length, there is a lot of detail that was probably confusing to the disciples. In fact it was confusing to me and I have the ability to look back with the cross and resurrection already in mind. Regardless this is a wonderful discussion given by Jesus that reveals His true identity and purpose on this earth.
The discourse concludes with Jesus offering a prayer for Himself, the disciples who made up the remaining eleven, and all followers to come. This prayer ends with Jesus praying for us, the followers throughout the ages. As I finished the prayer I wandered if Jesus would look at the church today and feel sad for the state it’s in. Look back at the words of His prayer … “May they experience such perfect unity that they world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:23 NLT) Do you think the church makes Jesus proud?
I do not know the answer to that per say, but I do not the church today is not unified. How many “brands” of Christianity exist? How may different doctrines have split churches? How many worship wars have wreaked havoc on congregations? How many building programs have created a wedge between people of faith?
As a minister of a “restoration” church it my mission to seek unity. I love the phrase, “in matters of faith unity, in matter of opinion liberty, in all things love.” I also love the saying, “not the only Christians but Christians only.” These remind me that no matter what difference we may have, there is only one church and that church is made up of all people who have found a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When we begin to live like that, we begin to fulfill the prayer of Jesus.