Did you know that Jesus said a prayer out loud specifically about all of us who are His followers? It’s recorded in the Gospel of John. Just before his betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus prayed these words fervently to his Father God, “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. (John 17:21-23)
Unfortunately, only a short time after the early church was established this unity began to disintegrate. The apostle Paul pleaded for unity with the church in Corinth, saying, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought…”(1 Corinthians 1:10-11)
Today, we still allow our stereotypes, denominational allegiances, theological differences and personal preferences to divide the body of Christ. We spend far more time defining and defending our differences than we spend looking for common ground and working together. And, according to Jesus, this disunity hinders the spreading of the Good News. I believe this grieves the Holy Spirit deeply. I believe the responsibility to seek and promote unity lies within each one of us. Friends, we must pray that God will show us clearly how we can return to his plan for us to be one, unified Church…one undivided Body of Christ.