John 17 contains the most extensive and profound prayer of Jesus that we have. We are given the privilege of slipping alongside Jesus and listening to his prayer that has been called the “last will and testament”.
In his prayer, Jesus prays for himself and his disciples. He then he turns his attention to prayers to the distant horizon and to prayers for the future generations of followers---which is you and me!
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their (the disciples) message.” (verse 20) Imagine that 2000 years ago Jesus prayed for us! And what did he pray for?? He could have prayed for anything…He could have asked for health or prosperity but instead in the shadow of the cross he prays for our unity. Verse 21 says, “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.”
Our unity announces to the world that Jesus came from God. How we live in unity is a walking advertisement of our faith and either it is attractive or it is not. This is not to say that we must agree on everything. We are all individuals with different opinions. There will be disagreements in the church over music, ministry, preaching style etc. We need to disagree without being disagreeable or divisive. Our faith and heart and belief in Christ should transcend differences.
Verse 24 states “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” He is referring to heaven and since we as believers will be altogether forever he is praying that we love each other now---that we get a head start on loving each other. He prays that the love of God will reside in us, making this unity possible.
In any community there will be differences, most certainly, we are called to love each other, support each other in our ultimate mission to impact the world for Christ. Our unity on earth is a slice of heaven.