As we approach the time of Jesus crucifixion I've been pondering, what was on his heart on the way to the cross? John 17 gives us a birds eye view and it's breath taking.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
Stunning! Doesn't it just take your breath away? Like beautiful wrapping on a precious gift Jesus' prayer peals back the top layer of salvation revealing the heart of the gospel. Unity. Salvation is a doorway into a new life, an action, a change of status. But we are not saved for salvation's sake. We are saved for unity.
What amazes me is the standard Jesus holds out for us, "that they may be one as we are one." Did he just say that? Did he just hold up the perfect oneness of Three in One; Father, Son and Spirit, eternal unity? I believe he did. The purpose of the cross was to remove the barrier between us and God that our union could be complete. One heart, one mind, one mission, one purpose, one love with the Living God, and for that unity to be reflected and perfected in the church, a oneness of heart among brothers. "Then the world will know!"
What's on the other side of the tomb? Unity!
The entire book of Ephesians fleshes out this blueprint of unity for God's body, a reflection on earth of his unity with, well, himself. Is such unity possible in the church today? I've rarely, if ever, seen such a thing. It would certainly be unmistakable. But before I die it is my desire to have tasted for a time an entire group of people moving in tandem to the rhythm of our Father's heart, so connected to him and one another that they are mistaken for one person instead of many. I would sell everything I have and give up every other dream to live with such a people. And I think that's the point.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:1-6
Will you and I be part of the answer to Jesus' prayer of unity for his disciples? What an honor and joy that would be!