“How delightfully good when God’s people live together in harmony!” —Psalm 133:1
We know that Jesus often withdrew to get alone and pray (Luke 5:16), but there are only a few instances throughout the Gospels where we get to know the content of His prayers. However, in John 17, we are given a peek behind the curtain when Jesus actually prays for us! In what is commonly referred to as His high priestly prayer, Jesus draws near to His Heavenly Father and asks Him to keep us from the evil one, to sanctify us in the truth, to unite us together as one, and to give us a genuine love for Him that would make the world take notice (John 17:20-23).
Striking, isn’t it? In His final prayer, before He was to be led away to suffer and die for the sins of humanity, Jesus prayed for us and He prayed not for our happiness, safety, or success; He prayed that we would be one. Needless to say, God cares deeply about our unity. Why? Because it reflects His true nature and shows the world a greater love and power that is more than theoretical; it is visible. Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Our enemy, on the other hand, wants to impede our influence by disrupting our unity. Tony Evans comments, “Satan spends most of his time trying to divide us in the body of Christ because he knows that God’s power and glory are both accessed and magnified through unity.” However, we don’t build unity in our own power by simply gritting our teeth and trying harder to like one another; we must pray for God’s Spirit to do a work in our hearts that we may “with all humility, gentleness, and patience, bear with one another in love and make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
It is important for us to be clear that unity means oneness, not sameness. The body of Christ is beautifully diverse—made up of uniquely created and gifted individuals with distinctive personalities and backgrounds. However, in Christ all these individual persons become one, united people called out and set apart by God, for God. The Apostle Peter painted a beautiful picture of this when He wrote, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” As God’s people, we are meant to relentlessly pursue unity to the glory of God.
As you draw near, begin by reflecting on Jesus’ prayer for you. See His loving care for us and His passionate zeal for the unity of His people. Pray that God would make your heart more like His that you may pursue and maintain peace, love, and unity. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind any of the ways you have not done this (thoughts, words, actions, etc.) or people towards whom you have not shown the heart of Christ. Let’s also pray against the enemy and any of his attempts to oppose God or promote disunity among His people.
Today let’s pray as a family that we would be in one accord, completely unified in our mission and vision! Pray that we would all seek ways as individuals to serve and edify the body in all that we think, say, and do. In the words of Martyn Lloyd Jones, “In essentials, have unity; in non-essentials, have liberty; in all things, have charity!”