It is Thursday and Jesus is praying for unity. Unity was as precious in the 1st Century as it is now.
Today’s Devotional Scripture – John 17:20-23, New Living Translation
(Jesus prayed.) “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father – that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are – I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and understand that you love them as much as you love me.”
I have feeling that not everyone has seen or read about the organization known as Everyone A Chance to Hear (EACH). It was started in 2011 by a group of metropolitan Detroit pastors, preachers and religious leaders. They adopted the following mission statement:
“Working together as a body of believers, we will give everyone in the metropolitan area of Detroit a chance to take the next step in their journey toward Jesus.”
It’s an ambitious statement, because it requires almost 500 churches and Christian organizations to pledge that they will unite together to tell the remarkable story of Jesus and provide special services to our neighbors throughout southeastern Michigan.
It is a statement rooted in the words of Jesus. Jesus prayed that all humanity would be united with and through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He understood that unity bears witness to God’s love and God’s love promotes unity.
We cannot fully comprehend how God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit work in harmony to meet our needs, but they do. If you have any doubts, ask a Christian about the blessings he or she has received or who led him or her through a difficult time in life.
We also find unity through prayer and worship. For example, Jesus prayed for unity. Despite His intimate connection with God, He still bowed down and humbly prayed for unity. You only need to read Acts 2:42-47 to see the unity expressed through meeting together regularly and addressing the needs of the people. After all, worship is fundamentally our opportunity to praise God whether individually or corporately.
The Apostle Paul addressed the subject of unity in each of his New Testament letters. For example, in Romans 14 he encourages the Christians to remain united in peace despite the differences that exist in their diets and eating habits. One of the recurring themes in 1 Corinthians is we are all members of the body of Christ and none of us is an identical part. “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be,” explains Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:18-20. “If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
The Apostle Paul is an amazing servant of the Lord. He composes and sends a letter that talks about unity, while he is in prison for having shared the message of Christ. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” writes Paul in Ephesians 4:1-6. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
As we count down the days to Easter, let us pray like Jesus for unity and, like Paul, declare there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”
Oh Lord, thank you for praying this prayer for me almost 2,000 years ago. I realize the deepest desire in your heart on the night you were betrayed was for unity and oneness in the Body of Christ, so that the world would understand God’s love. I pray that through activities like the EACH initiative, all Christians in metro Detroit and around the world will become perfected into one body of believers. Amen.
Please make plans to attend a Bible-believing church in your community this Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you are not familiar with southeastern Michigan, I recommend you check out the list of churches that participate in the EACH initiative posted on http://eachtoday.com/who/participating-churches .
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