Undivided: We Go Together


Complete Unity

By Danny Saavedra

“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 (NIV)

Synchronized swimming, or any choreographed movement or action, is crazy to me because it’s so unusual to see a group of people act in harmony with one another. It’s like when a basketball player throws a no-look pass to his teammate who is in the perfect spot to receive the pass and throw down a monster dunk. It’s like they're sharing one mind. 

In today’s passage, Jesus prays that His followers may be one and “brought to complete unity.” He’s interceding before the Father on our behalf that we may be an undivided people who share one heart, one mind, and one mission. 

As I said above, the idea of this is simply mind blowing because it’s such a rarity amongst humanity, especially in the way Jesus is describing. By comparison to Jesus’ call for unity, synchronized swimming and sensational alley-oops are easy. But to get any group of people—let alone one as widespread, multi-generational, culturally, philosophically, politically, and often doctrinally diverse as the Church—to act in harmony and walk in unity is essentially a pipe dream. But as Jesus said, “With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26 NIV). 

And so, what did Jesus do to ensure we have the capacity to walk in concert? What did He provide to equip us to experience complete unity? He tells us when He says, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” I love how Matthew Henry puts it: “Our Lord especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.” 

Did you catch that? By the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in us, we can have harmony with God and one another. Our common faith in Christ unites us as family, but the Holy Spirit in us unites us as one body under the headship of Jesus. Thus, we can work in concert, we can act in synchronicity, we can put aside any cultural, philosophical, or generational differences, we can share one mind, and we can be an undivided community on mission! And when we do that, when we press into the Spirit and ask Him to give us eyes to see our brothers and sisters as God sees them, to love and serve them as Jesus loves us, and pray for them as we see Jesus praying for us here, then the world will know that God loves all of humanity just as He loves Jesus. 

PAUSE: What does it take to achieve unity?

PRACTICE: Is there anyone in the body of Christ you have conflict with that would keep you from experiencing unity? Pray and ask the Lord to work in you and in that person to bring reconciliation. You don’t have to be best friends with them, but remaining trapped in disunity and bitterness will only serve to hinder you, them, and the overall body of Christ. And as hard as this may sound, consider praying for them! As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange or intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died.”

PRAY: Father, I thank You and praise You for the Church, which has been brought together by the blood of Your Son Jesus and the love of Your Son Jesus. I pray for unity in our small groups, in our local churches, and in the Church as a whole. I pray that through Your Spirit, in Your truth, and by Your grace and power we may be brought to complete unity and that through our unity and love, many more would come to know You. Amen.