How is the world going to believe in Jesus?
The answer is revealed in Jesus’ prayer:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:20-23)
“That they be one”
Who are “they”? All who know Jesus around the world. All Christ followers on the globe spanning all nations, denomination, cultures, levels of spiritual maturity and cultural differences.
….they will all be one….so that the world will believe you sent me.
….so they may be one….that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
“That the world will know”
I read books with a pen or pencil in hand. Notes are scribbled in the margins, words are circled, sentences are underlined, stars and question marks brand the pages, and arrows connect thoughts. When I am finished reading a book, it is ruined for donating or re-selling, and it looks as if every word is equally important.
Then I wait a week.
After seven days, when I think about the book, there is usually one paragraph that sticks with me. If I were to read the book again, a different paragraph would take center stage, but each time there is a stand-out.
Until Unity by Francis Chan
I recently finished this amazing book. Here is the paragraph I remember.
Jesus has said that when we become perfectly one, the world will believe that Jesus was sent by God and that God loves the world even as He loves His Son. And so, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it gets, I can’t quit pursuing this. I’m not necessarily saying we shouldn’t do any forms of outreach, but they need to be accompanied by an equal if not greater effort to encourage the church toward the oneness that Scripture promises will reach the lost. The gospel message is incomplete without the picture of the unified church. There is no plan B. (page 96)
…accompanied by an equal if not greater effort…
This is probably my favorite phrase within my favorite sentence of my favorite paragraph in the book. Chan’s book challenged me to consider that no matter the extent of my individual or church’s efforts to love people well, perhaps even more effort should be exerted toward making sure the church is operating in unity. That is a brand new thought for me, but it makes sense. God said that was the strategy through which the world will most believe God sent Jesus and that God loves the world as much as He loves His Son (based on John 17:20-23).
Are we missing plan A?
Scripture seems to indicate that unity is non-negotiable and a higher priority than we have made it. Chan confessed sowing discord in the church. He admits times when he has not reached out to other churches or has cast a shadow on other denominations with his words, even if side comments and humor. His confessions revealed that I have done the same. I have done so through such things as lack of understanding, negative thoughts, under-prioritizing church unity, over-prioritizing non-essential theology and blindly accepting bias I was taught by my churches and teachers.
“Have you ever considered how outsiders must view us?” (page 25)
Chan’s style in this book is his norm. He pastes Scripture on the page, then in simple language that is easy to read, he examines what God says verse-by-verse with such intense focus it is nearly impossible for the reader to turn away. He keeps asking the church, “How are we looking?”
Let’s dare answer the question.
Let’s hit the pause button and examine ourselves honestly about this critical task of being as unified as Jesus and God! How are we looking in social media, in our neighborhoods, and in our church and family relationships? Do onlookers see unity or do they us see competing or see us outdoing the other in showing honor?
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10, ESV
Does the world see us as people of peace and godly living or yelling and division?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18, NIV
I can’t fix the church at large but I am sobered this week to make sure that when I walk into Christian communities that I am not contributing to disunity and more importantly, to make sure I am contributing to unity.
We can’t mess this up.
Jesus says the world is depending on us. God is depending on us.
Look at the reflections in the water. What are we reflecting, not only as individuals but as a whole?
There is an online study of One Gritty Blink starting September 21 from 7-9 p.m. Click on the Oaks Ministries link below to view the trailer and consider joining.
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