“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” (John 17:22-23 ESV).
If you haven’t noticed yet, Unity is a topic that shows up on this blog regularly. It’s not that it is of more importance to me than other topics, but rather that it is of great importance to God. It is a theme that, at its heart, is central to the narrative of salvation. As such, we should be as much about cultivating unity within the Body of Christ as we are about salvation, sanctification, and evangelization.
It has always been God’s desire to reestablish with mankind the fellowship that Adam and Eve once enjoyed with Him before the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, God shed innocent blood and covered their nakedness with the skin of animals, thus atoning for their sin and restoring their relationship with Him. God’s great plan to redeem all of mankind through Jesus’ sacrificial death had been put in place; His desire to have fellowship with all of mankind, and be at one with them, was revealed.
Once Jesus had provided the way for us to have peace and unity with God as individuals, Jew and Gentile alike, God established the Church, through which He desired to bring the world together in faith through Him. He no longer wanted there to be a distinction between Jew and Gentile, but He wanted a unified body of believers. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV).
It was through this one body that God planned for us to grow, encouraging us and sanctifying us together through Him. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:15-16 ESV).
Thankfully, the salvation that was provided in Christ was not meant only for those who walked the earth in the first century AD! He provided also for all who would come after. And as it fell upon the first believers to spread the word of Jesus’ love, death, and resurrection, it is now our responsibility to reach out to those who haven’t heard the gospel. “Us four and no more” is not acceptable. As members of the body of Christ, it is imperative that we are about the business of unifying the Church, and enlarging and strengthening said body.
The desire of Christ is that “the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” That happens only as we walk in unity with Him and with each other.