Read John 17
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Scripture- John 17:20-21- “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one- as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
Observations- John 17 is referred to as Jesus' "High Priestly Prayer," because the entire chapter is recorded as the Son is in conversation with His Father as He serves as a mediator on our behalf. Jesus is praying for us as well in these verses, for we are the ones who believe through the witness of the first century disciples. Jesus prayed for unity. Jesus prayed for our oneness. He wanted that for every generation of Christ followers. He wanted us to be connected with one another in the same way He was to the Father. Why? So that those who didn't yet believe in Him would see the truth of His love and grace.
Application- Note what Jesus prayed for just before asking for our unity: "Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth." (John 1:17-19) This means the foundation of our unity is built upon God's truth. What do we do when our very foundation is cracked; that is, when we no longer agree on what is the truth? The right response certainly can't be to keep publicly fighting about our disagreement in front of the world that so desperately needs to see our unity and oneness! This is our ongoing dilemma in the United Methodist Church. Is marriage between a man and a woman, or is it between two people? Is this an essential issue that requires our unity, or is this a non-essential issue in which we can extend liberty? No matter where we land, of course, we must always extend love. There may well come a time (and it may now be here) when the best course of action is to release and bless one another to live out differing visions of the truth to limit a harmful witness in the community and the world God loves so much. (See Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41 for an example of releasing one another in service.)
Prayer- Thank You, Jesus, for Your prayer that we would all be one. Your truth is the foundation of all of our unity. Help us live in the truth and unity You invite us to receive and make known to the world. When folks look at us, even through our profound disagreements, help them see You more clearly. Guide us to Your truth, so that genuine unity can be our witness to those who need Jesus. Amen.
"I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose." (1 Corinthians 1:10),
- S. - As we start a new sermon series this Sunday, "A Firm Foundation," I want to invite you to pick up the book on the porch for only $5. It's a great, quick read that delves deeper into the dilemma we face in the UMC.
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