One

by Scarlett Stough

 

When Jesus prayed to his Father the night before his execution, he prayed that his followers would become “one” as Jesus and his Father are “one” (John 17:21-23.) When Jesus said, “May they be brought to complete unity,” he was saying, “May they be ‘one.’” The translators used “one” in verses 21 and 22 to translate the same word as “unity” in verse 23. Becoming one and creating unity is the same process.

We seem to understand when people join together to form a club they don’t cease to be individuals with separate lives, opinions and beliefs. Yet, when we come together to form a church congregation, we find ourselves facing the idea that we must conform in all ways in order to have unity. However, conformity will not produce the unity Jesus prayed we would achieve. It remains absent because we fail to practice the one characteristic identifying who Jesus’ disciples are and also makes them “one”--“the love they have for one another” which has its source in God’s love for them (John 13:34-35.)

This love would bind them together into one purpose and by one Spirit so they could use their individual talents, resources, and spiritual gifts to benefit each other, doing good to all men as they have means and opportunity.

This love leads to treating one another with kindness and respect. This love encourages one another to do good works among the congregation and toward those outside of it. This love empowers good works and does not hinder them. This love also hates evil as defined by God in the Bible while desiring and working toward the rescue of the ones who are captive to that evil. This love refuses to be caught up in disputes and factions or the latest prophetic or doctrinal “new thing.” This love focuses on the “weightier matters of the law.”

This love leads to unity, to the oneness God desires his people to have. He is willing and able to give it to those who submit to him in humility. Godly unity cannot exist apart from his grace. His grace will not coexist with pride which insists on its own way. Unity pleases God. Unity glorifies God. Yet complete unity eludes Christianity. This is nothing new.

The New Testament writings are full of the many ways believers in Christ have found to be disunited. They formed factions around doctrinal disputes, favorite apostles, and personal quarrels. The same thing happens today. To be one as Jesus and the Father are one is a growth process. It requires a maturity, emotionally and spiritually, that few manage to achieve.

The unity pleasing to God has little to do with common “statements of belief” or a common style of organization or worship. God-given unity is one of uncommon consideration for one another’s welfare with the knowledge of God as our Father and Jesus as our Elder Brother and with the Holy Spirit binding us into one family as brothers and sisters. Just as siblings have to develop the ability to tolerate one another’s differences in personalities, habits, and beliefs, so Christians have to develop the ability to tolerate one another for the common purpose of pleasing God, honoring him, and accomplishing the tasks he gives us to do.

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Complete Unity.


Volume 10 Issue 5 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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