This morning I read what’s known as the High Preistly Prayer of Jesus in John 17 and was heart-broken again as I realized how far we as believers & church leaders have fallen from it.
I have a long way to go and certainly make more than my share of mistakes, but the truth in this passage has impacted me for years. I’ve been through many church battles where people who claimed to be spiritual leaders drug the words of Jesus in this prayer through the mud because they acted as if they didn’t give a rip. They were more concerned with their agenda or control than releasing control to God and realizing the supreme value of unity in the body of Christ.
There’s a spiritual principle that extremely simple in this prayer: When we are ONE people are WON. Maybe one reason so many churches are dying or are filled with problems that keep them from reaching people is because they continue to violate this most holy prayer of Jesus. I believe any action or attitude that causes disunity in the body of Christ is a serious offense to the Holy Spirit and I know how grieveous this is b/c I’ve been guilty.
While I’m not totally sucessful, I try to do the following and have asked my staff to do the same. Don’t be critical of another Pastor or Church; instead pray for them when you drive by and ask for God to do a mighty work in and through them! This doesn’t mean I agree with everything they do, but that’s not the issue for me — I’m praying for them to become all that God wants them to be and that He’ll use them to reach people no one else can reach. I don’t want to be guilty of violating Jesus’ prayer and besides, I have enough issues of my own to work on (Mt. 7:3-5)
I dare you to read John 17 and ask yourself how it applies to you personally. How do I bring glory to God? How do I love like God does? How important is it for me to preserve, protect and promote unity (see how often the word “one” is used”. Meditate for a while on verses 20-23.
John 17 (CEV)
1After Jesus had finished speaking to his disciples, he looked up toward heaven and prayed:
Father, the time has come for you to bring glory to your Son, in order that he may bring glory to you. 2And you gave him power over all people, so that he would give eternal life to everyone you give him. 3Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent. 4I have brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you gave me to do. 5Now, Father, give me back the glory that I had with you before the world was created.
6You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. 7They know that you gave me everything I have. 8I told my followers what you told me, and they accepted it. They know that I came from you, and they believe that you are the one who sent me. 9I am praying for them, but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them. 10All that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine, and they will bring glory to me. 11Holy Father, I am no longer in the world. I am coming to you, but my followers are still in the world. So keep them safe by the power of the name that you have given me. Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.
13I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. 14I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.
15Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. 16They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. 17Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. 18I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. 19I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.
20I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. 21I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.
22I have honored my followers in the same way that you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one. 23I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me.
24Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me, wherever I am. Then they will see the glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created. 25Good Father, the people of this world don’t know you. But I know you, and my followers know that you sent me. 26I told them what you are like, and I will tell them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them.