weekly staff devotion from December 12
John 17:20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray for those who will believe in me … 21 that all may be one …”
There are so many things that could have been on Jesus’ prayer list the night before he was crucified. So many thoughts and concerns. But there he is in John 17 praying for US and praying specifically for unity.
- we were not meant to be alone
Remember Adam in Genesis 2:18 – it is not good for man to be alone. That is still true. If we are alone, we remain alone. If remain alone, the gospel isn’t spread. Paul and Barnabas had a famous falling out in Acts 15. Ultimately they disagreed on how they would progress in ministry and staffing and so they parted ways. They separated in ministry, but even then, Paul didn’t stay alone, nor did Barnabas. Barnabas took Mark, and I’m sure others. Paul took Silas, Timothy, and Luke joined them among others. They both moved forward in unity with others.
- We need unity
Jesus prayed Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may THEY be in US …
If God, One yet Three, Three yet One, operates in that unified plurality of personhood, then how much more do we need to do the same thing. David sang “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133. But we can’t find unity with one another if we are out of sync with God. If we are in sync with God, then we will seek unity with each other. But what then about Paul and Barnabas? Well, a lot of commentators over the years have drawn up “sides” pro Paul or pro Barnabas. I am not a commentator, just a preacher, but I am of the opinion that in unity, they parted ways. They recognized that they had a different working style, different leadership style, and different expectations, and it was going to hinder the gospel if they remained together. You see, I believe it was THE GOSPEL that was their point of unity. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus. They didn’t go out on a crusade to win the argument or win the hearts of others to their style. They went on about the gospel. Paul and Silas went to Syria. They weren’t wasting time defending their separation, they were busy about the gospel. And yet Acts 15:40 says they were “commended by the brothers” . It was a unified body that sent them out though it sent them out separately. the Division of Separation doesn’t have to bring subtraction. If done correctly it can bring about addition. In the addition of members on the mission it brought about Multiplication in the Kingdom.
- Why Unity? For the Gospel
Because they themselves had believed the gospel, they desired to advance the gospel in unity, for the reason Jesus prayed so that the WORLD may believe.
Read it again so that the world may believe …
That should be our heartbeat. That should be our motivation. The question should always be, “will this cause a world to believe or disbelieve?” Lord I want to be one who encourages toward belief, not discourages belief.
John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
That the world may know
That the world may know