We all have favorites. Favorite shirts, favorite flavors of ice cream, favorite vacation destinations, just to name a few. Even though they are already our favorites, it is still possible that there can be a moment when they become even more to us. That was the case for me this week as I listened to someone unpack a passage of scripture – John 17. John 17, Jesus’ prayer for us, all of those who believe in Him, has long been one of the most powerful impactful scriptures in my faith journey. To hear it read and proclaimed this week encouraged me in a powerful way. To know that Jesus was praying for us, for a time just like today when the world seems to be so overwhelming and we are wondering how to proclaim the gospel in a time when the world needs it most, well, it was amazing.
We proclaim that Jesus is the only way, that Jesus loves everyone, that He is the source of all that we need, but by all appearances we are left wondering if anyone is listening. Is it possible that fewer and fewer are listening to the Good News that we as a Church know to be true? And the answer is sadly, yes. But maybe it is not for the reasons we are thinking. Maybe, just maybe, it is because the message we are proclaiming is not recognizable or appears irrelevant. Not because Jesus is irrelevant, but because our words do not match our actions, and our actions do not match the actions of Jesus.
Which brings me back to the prayer found in John 17. As Jesus is praying for us and sending us out to proclaim the message of God’s love, acceptance, hope, and truth, He provides for us the tool by which this will come true. The tool, or key if you will, is this – unity. Jesus says clearly – if they will be one (unity), then two things are guaranteed. If they will be one, then the world will know you sent me. If they will be one, everyone will know I, Jesus, am your Son, that you, God the Father, have sent me and they will know why you sent me. That leads to the second guarantee. If they are one, they will know you love them. If they are one, they will not only know you sent me, they will also know why – to show that you love them.
When Jesus sent us out to share the Good News of the Gospel, He gave us the tool, the way that we were to do that with a guaranteed result – Unity. Looking at the world that we live in right now, is this not the message that the church is called to live? Is this not the task that we are still given? Is this not the way for people to see and know that Jesus has made a difference in our lives and can make a difference in their lives as well? Is this still not the church that Jesus envisioned, prayed for, and gave His life for?
Be encouraged. You and I can still use the tools that God uses to change the world through the power and message of Jesus. It all begins with unity in Christ.