“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (Jn 17:20-23, esv)
This was the opening text preached at the BANNER OF TRUTH MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE by Mark Johnston, Banner Trustee, Pastor at Proclamation Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. It was a fine reminder of one of our highest priorities: UNITY.
First note the WEIGHT of Jesus’ concern for our unity. He mentions “oneness” twice in short compass. This unity among believers here on earth somehow reflects the unity of our triune God in heaven above. It is not “uniformity” among believers [consider the ‘minimalist’ statement issued from the Apostles in Jerusalem for the early church in Acts 15], but it is real and must be visible. Second, consider the IMPACT of this unity. It goes far beyond our congregation or assemblies. The world is watching! Jesus mentions this twice. Indeed, the power of the gospel and the presence of grace in a united group of diverse folks is a tremendous witness to the world — as Jesus intended it to be. Third, we considered the MEANS of this unity. While more could have been said, the preacher reminded us that the church as an organism (not merely an organization) enlivened by the love of God our Father. Thus we must know God, and be loved by Him (which is what “known” here means in the biblical language). The mark of Christianity is love.
Brothers, do you realize that Jesus was praying this for us? Oh, may we strive for greater unity, in the strength of the Holy Spirit!