Christian Unity

Christian Unity

By Marilyn Pritchard

On Jesus’ last night before His crucifixion, He prayed what my Bible labels The High Priestly Prayer. John recorded this prayer in his gospel (John 17), so it’s likely that Jesus prayed it aloud in the presence of His disciples. Like the prayer He prayed when raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-42), He wanted them to hear it, too.

And what did Jesus pray for? Knowing these might be his last words for His closest followers, what did He beseech his Father for?

He prayed for unity, and not just for those 11 (Judas had already left to betray Him) but for all who would come after them, “who will believe in me through their message" (John 17:20). That includes you and me! (Did you realize that Jesus prayed for you way back when He was here on earth? It gives me tingles!)

He knew that they (we) would need to stick together. He would no longer be physically present with them; He was sending them out into the world, and they were going to be faced with tremendous opposition. “…[T]he world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (John 17:14).

Jesus wanted us to experience the same unity that He and the Father experience: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (verse 21a).

This is not just for our protection but for our witness. This unity is what should mark us as Christians: “that the world may believe that you have sent me” (verse 21b). And it should be manifested by our love: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

And yet, we don’t always experience this “complete unity” (John 17:23), do we? We see divisions within our churches and divisions within the body of Christ as a whole, along denominational lines, racial lines, political lines, and even national lines. 

In a fallen world, we will always struggle to maintain that unity that Christ prayed for, but we must do our part. If you find yourself at odds with another believer, look for the things you can agree on. Major on the majors and not on the minors. There will always be things that well-intentioned believers disagree on, but if we focus on our unity in Christ, the love that the Father has for the Son will be in us, and we will be one in Him.

If you want to be an instrument in maintaining unity in the body of Christ or are looking for resources to help you navigate disagreements among fellow believers, Just Between Us (JBU) is here to help. Check out some of the articles highlighted below on Christian unity to provide insight into how other women have dealt with this issue and maybe give you some ideas to apply to your own faith journey.

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