Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“The Lord will be a place of repair for His people and a stronghold to the children of Israel.”
“Place of repair: when trials press upon me
And God permits the unexpected test,
‘Tis there I learn some lesson sweet and precious
As simply on His faithfulness I rest.’”
Today’s Study Text:
“Holy Father, keep in Your Name, in the knowledge of Yourself, those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are one…Neither for these alone do I pray, it is not for their sake only that I make this request, but also for all those who will ever come to believe in Me through their word and teaching. That they all may be one, just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.”
“Learning To Pray Like Jesus – Part 5
They May Be One”
“God created us to operate in relationship with Him and with each other. We are not made for isolation.”
In relationships, how is a spirit of unity fostered?
What do I believe Jesus meant when He asked His Father to make us one even as He and His Father are one?
“The reality of our communion with Christ and in Him with one another is the increase of love in our hearts.”
“Form all together one choir, so that, with the symphony of your feelings and having all taken the tone of God, you may sing with one voice to the Father through Jesus Christ.
Ignatius of Antioch
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of going to a Christmas celebration where Handel’s Messiah was performed. There were soloists, a wonderful choir and an orchestra. There were musicians with trumpets stationed around the auditorium and even several small choral groups were singing from the balconies. It was an amazing production, as throughout the entire musical number, each section of performers played their part perfectly. Whether it was the vibrant ring of the horns or the lush string section or the beautiful sound of the harpsichord used in this musical endeavor – every person with their unique talents, brought such beauty to the performance.
But it was during the “Hallelujah Chorus,” when the entire instrumental and choral ensembles joined together, that I began to really appreciate how grand something can sound when individual musicians function not as lone soloists, but as a group in harmony.
As I thought about Jesus’ words in John 17, a request to His Father which focuses on the unity of His children, it caused me to think about what happens when individuals with varied talents, interests or capabilities are brought together with the purpose of working together or performing together in harmony.
When Jesus prayed, He asked His Father to bestow upon His children on earth a spirit of oneness like the spirit He and His Father enjoyed. We might ask ourselves, “What was the basis of this unity, which was expressed in the life of Jesus with His Father in heaven?” The answer is really quite simple. It is the power of God’s love. As beautifully expressed by Victor Gollancz, “We adore Thee, who are One and who art Love: and it is in unity and love that we would live together doing Thy will.”
In his book, God’s Revolution, author Eberhard Arnold expands on the words of Jesus, specifically as recorded in John 17. He states, “The only way the world will recognize the mission of Jesus is by the unity of His church. But this unity must be translated into real community. Jesus spoke of the absolute unity between His Father and Himself. And His prayer for us is that we be just as united (John 17: 21, 22).
I find it so touching that in Jesus prayer in John 17, the unity, the oneness Jesus experienced with His Father, is the same oneness He prays we will have with our heavenly Father. What is special about this unity is that it doesn’t mean we lose the uniqueness that is our individuality. And we have to look no further than the twelve disciples Jesus chose to understand that in the lives of these men, there were great differences – a tax collector, fishermen, and a doctor. A quiet doubter and the sons of thunder. Not just personalities and vocations differentiated these individuals. They were sometimes divided even by their very goals in life -- and yet, Jesus longed for oneness within this group, just as He prays for the same with you and me.
I want to share this prayer by Michael Perry who expresses the words of Jesus in this way:
“We thank God for our unity in diversity:
There are different kinds of gifts:
but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service:
but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working:
but the same God.
Praise to God almighty.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
who works in us
in all these ways. Amen.”
“O God we are one with You.
You have made us one with You.
You have taught us that if we are open
to one another, You dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness and to
fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no
understanding where there is mutual rejection.
O God, in accepting one another
wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept You, and we thank You,
and we adore You.
And we love You with our whole being,
because our being is in Your being,
our spirit rooted in Your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love…
united in this one spirit which makes You
present to the world, and which makes You
witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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