In John 17, during His final earthly hours, we have an actual record of Jesus’ conversation with His Father – about us! It is so moving to me to see Jesus’ earnest prayer for every person in the world to experience the same love His Father has for Him (v.23).
The profound “Aha!” for me about Jesus’ prayer is that His priority focus wasn’t just on believers being unified or even on winning the world for Christ. His greatest concern was for us to be united with Him and His Father. And, look at the extent of this kind of unity: Jesus prayed that our unity would not only be LIKE He has with His Father, but that it would be the SAME as He and His Father have: "that they may be in us," Jesus prayed (John 17:21).
Many of us have longed for God to send revival and awakening in our land and throughout the world. We have prayed for it all our lives. But I wonder if we miss what Jesus wanted for us in the area of unity. Have we skipped His emphasis on the order of things in John 17?
First, Jesus wants us to experience unity with Him, God and the Holy Spirit. Think how that would transform us! (John 17:22) Then, in verse 23, He reveals that, when we are one with Him, He enables us to be “brought to complete unity” with our fellow believers. That, in turn, is a testimony to the world about the authenticity of Christ and the compelling love Jesus and the Father have for all of us (John 17:23).
Jesus doesn’t want our primary focus to be on programs, knowledge, skills or even unity among believers. He first wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him and His Father– out of which everything else flows!
When it comes to bringing about more unity, pastor/author A.W. Tozer illustrated it
brilliantly (full quote in Better Together, page 121): “Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?”
I believe getting “in tune” like that pictures the heart behind the kind of unity Jesus wants. Jesus Himself said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” I think that means we must do more listening for His voice, more seeking His will for our ministries and life circumstances. This comes by meditating on Scripture (alone and together) and waiting on Him to reveal how He wants the Scriptures applied in our situations. That may mean us talking less to God and God talking more to us. It likely means making less decisions first, and asking for God’s blessing later.
I certainly don’t claim to know how it all works, but I know that if I really believed God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are there at my prayer times or my planning meetings, I wouldn’t be talking much at all. I’d be listening and taking copious notes! We can be assured, that kind of simple focus on our intimacy with God will lead us to the greatest possible unity and the most far-reaching impact for Christ!
May God continue to extend to us His compassion, patience and empowerment as we seek the kind of unity for which Jesus prayed.