The entire prayer of Jesus in John 17 is so rich that I taste a slightly new, always delicious, flavor every time I read it. Most recently, the tasty morsel was the simple conclusion of Jesus after part of His request for those who didn’t yet know Him. Effectively, He said to His Father, “If You will do these things I ask of You, the world will believe You have sent me, and will know that you love them just like You love me.”
John 17:20-23 NIV 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.
Jesus’ heartbeat reflects that of His Father – that everyone knows, not merely acknowledges, the life-changing truth of their heavenly Father’s love for them. The only thing it requires, according to His request, is unity of believers, all of whom have been given His glory.
Though much is written, spoken, and prayed concerning unity in the church, division seems to abound. For too long, believers have looked more diligently for areas of disagreement and separation than for the Holy Spirit of Jesus in each other. It cannot remain this way forever, though, because of Jesus’ prayers. If we chew just a little longer on the simple words found in the last sentence of the passage, we uncover the beginning point of unity in the Spirit, the kind in which we are one just like Jesus and our Father are one.
Then the world will know that you . . . have loved them even as you have loved me.
The world will see Jesus in His body when we live in His love toward one another. Yet, how can we so live unless we know beyond verbal acknowledgment the unalterable truth that God loves us as He loves Jesus?
Jesus’ love is the beginning of life in Christ and also its fullness – that life which the world needs to see in action. Yet, what we understand of His love when we are born again is infinitesimal, giving us opportunity to discover – together – His infinite love in all its aspects. This is His plan, His heartbeat, His expectation. That we, believers in Jesus Christ, live day in and day out in true fellowship with all our brothers and sisters – in His love.
Oh, Daddy! Help us grasp the life-changing revelation of Your love for us in Jesus Christ. May it be what compels us, rather than doctrine, dogma, or preferred style of worship. May we no longer resist Your love’s radical life-transforming work in us. May we allow, instead, all religious barriers between us to be exposed, dismantled, and completely destroyed. Receiving the continual flooding of Your love, may we freely release it to all our brothers and sisters!
This is unity, just as Jesus and the Father are One. Genuine love for one another in Christ. This is when the world will believe God sent Jesus. This is when the world will believe He has loved them as He loves Jesus. When our lives express His love in us and for us to one another.
Then the world will believe. Then the world will know.