Binding our church body, our families, and ourselves together in unity with The Lord
Let’s set the scene: The Last Supper has just concluded, and Jesus is soon to depart from his beloved disciples. In His last moments with them, Jesus launches into what is now known as the Farewell Discourse (John 14-17). Jesus leverages these last moments to emphasize the very things He does not want His disciples to forget. He repeatedly comforts the disciples with the promise of the coming of the Helper (the Holy Spirit), He reminds them of the significance of abiding, and He stresses that they love one another. The greatest theme weaved throughout the discourse, however, is the unity of love between the Father and the Son.
In John 17, He prays:
“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 believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
As someone who deeply values individualism and autonomy, this concept of oneness and unity is incredibly challenging for me to grapple with. Any argument to me is worth arguing. For the sake of debate, if you’re on one side, I’ll take the other.
A lot of that could be attributed to the era in which I’ve grown up. We are in a state of increasing polarization and division in our churches, our nation, our world; one in which the norm is, “If you are not with me, then you’re against me.” The idea of unity seems, at times, elusive and even utopian.
And yet, in His eleventh hour, Jesus prayed on my behalf that I would become perfectly one with the body of Christ.
Unity, as Jesus is praying for, isn’t individuals “uniting”; unity is us, you and me, followers of Jesus, becoming one. This does not mean that we do not have differences or that we throw our individuality out the window. Unity happens when we die to self and in doing so prize togetherness over our individuality.
The crown of glory of the Father was the cross, the greatest act of love by His son. It is only the communion, the divine mystery of the Trinity, that was the very strength of Jesus to commit the ultimate act of love.
And that’s why Jesus wants us to experience communion. So that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
The body of Christ becoming one is nothing short of a miracle and solely dependent on us communing with God. We cannot do it without Him.
Take a moment to reflect: Are there any places where your preferences are taking precedence over unity? Alternatively, think of a time in which you felt at one the church.
Today, please join me in praying for deeper unity as a Church family, that the love of God would bind us to be perfectly one. Pray that unity would mark us and heal us, and that lives would be transformed.
Ashlea Holt has been a member at Normandy since 2018. As a former Baylor Bear, she spends her free time sitting in Common Grounds while reading Chip and Joanna’s newest book.