If there is one scripture that the church of Jesus Christ in modern America is going to be called into account for... One verse of scripture, one passage that epitomizes Jesus' heart-throb for His church.. it's the 17th chapter of John. Of all the verses that we are going to be called into account for, (for the sins of omission), it's going to be this passage.
Because the church sinks or swims on this passage and this passage alone. After the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The spreading forth of the gospel of Jesus Christ rests on this scripture. We have a command to Go, this is how we should go.
Jesus is praying here. He is not praying for just the disciples. He's not praying for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He's not praying for Paul who was to come. Let's pick it up in John 17 verse 20.
"My prayer is not for them alone. [speaking of the disciples] I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that they 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. May they be brought into complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 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. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
We make Jesus' prayer of none effect. The way we live our lives in the modern church we might as well take this page out of the Bible and crumple it up and throw it into the furnace. Are we one? Ha! We don't even see one another except at church. And, then we rush in grab our seats, gossip a little bit, rush right out, and a week later we see one another again. That is not fellowship. That is not being one (that is, in Unity). By the way, being one does not mean being in 100% accord or agreement. Although our purpose must be the putting forth of Jesus Christ as the only Savior of man.
I said earlier that the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ sinks or swims on this passage of scripture. Verse 21. KJV "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:
THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME".
Why should we be one? That the world may believe! If you talk to the man on the street he'll tell you that one of the reasons he doesn't believe is because there are too many denominations. And, even within individual denominations there is a great schism. How can we be one? We don't even know one another. Greater love hath no man then to lay down his life for his friend.
Jesus our friend, our savior, our elder brother, our Lord and King laid down His life for us. And we're too busy to lay our lives down for one another. The biggest stumbling block that we have to lay down, is our pride. The pride that says, that we have got to be so spiritual that we have no needs, and we have no wants. Therefore we can't be ministered to by another brother. And, yet we'll work two jobs to fill the needs we don't have. Trying to fill the vacancy in our heart. Longing and yearning for Christian Fellowship. And, we think we can fill it up with stereos, and TV's, and VCR's, and CD's, and Video Cassette tapes, and a new guitar, and whatever. When we hunger and yearn for the love that Jesus talked about. One for another. WE can't go out and do battle with the enemy when we have that aching, yearning desire to know one another. That's a God given desire. Jesus made the prayer, I didn't. Jesus made the condition, I didn't. He said, that by this, shall all men know that the Father has sent Him. If we're one. It doesn't mean we have to agree on every little tiny thing. But, at least we can recognize one another out on the town. At least, we can recognize our other brothers from the church across town. If he loves Jesus, he's my brother whether I like him or not. This is so important.
In the book of Acts chapter 4 it is recorded that the church, the believers, had all things in common. Now, that concept is so foreign to the modern church that we can't even conceive of it. I mean, when we think about having all things in common, we think about the hippies of the 60's and 70's. Having all things in common does not mean free sex, and free drugs, like it did in the 60's. So we automatically block this passage of scripture out of our minds. 'Cause as any logical, reasoning adult, we realize that we cannot justify having all things in common, when we look back and see what happened in the 60's.
Having all things in common meant this. It meant that if there was any need in the body of Christ, if someone heard about a need, and could meet that need, it was met. No if's, and's, or but's about it. It meant that if somebody's house burned down, and you had a spare bedroom , the bedroom was theirs. It meant that if somebody had their winter coat ripped off, and you had a spare coat, it was theirs, no question asked, no monetary value considered. Period. It means if a brother goes to work on the grave-yard shift and the car breaks down on the way to work, if he doesn't have enough leave to cover the night, You get a phone call. What are you gonna do? You've got a car that works. Is that car your brothers? Are you gonna get him to work? Are you gonna protect your brother from financial loss? Are you gonna protect your brother from possible loss of employment?
Can your brother call you at 2 O'clock in the morning and say, "look, I've got a problem, I'm out here at exit 218 on I-26 at the Ho-Jo Inn, I don't have the leave, I've to get to work, can you help me out?" How are you gonna respond? Is your response gonna be, "Oh man I got to get up at 5 O'clock to go to work I can't possibly help you." Well, that's what it meant to have all things in common. It didn't mean sharing your wife! It didn't mean sharing your kids. It meant knowing one another well enough to minister to one another and meet the need. It meant being known well enough to be called at 2 O'clock in the morning. It meant being the type of person who didn't have so much pride that you couldn't call at 2 O'clock in the morning. It works both ways, both the giver and the receiver can have pride.
Can we effectively spread the gospel of Jesus Christ without having a church that works? Let me share something with you.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly called the Mormons, has a ladies group that will fix meals for a family, if somebody's wife gets sick, no questions asked, until the wife is ready to take over and fix meals again.
When my sister-in-law had to have a Heart procedure. She's a Jehovah's Witness, unfortunately, and had to go to Texas for the procedure because only a few places in the world can do the procedure without Blood Transfusions. You know how the Jehovah's Witnesses are about that. Guess what. The local congregation paid her way, and paid my mother-in-law's way as well. Put them up during the entire stay. And, then made sure they got back. And, they knew that my mother-in-law was a pentecostal! No questions asked. (Gail passed away April 1996, and had profesesed Faith in Christ before her death.)
Now where's the church, the true church of jesus Christ when we make these comparisons? Where is Jesus' true church? Can it be found in this earth? Are we one with one another? Are we one enough with the Lord to feel His heart-throb that we would really, honestly, love one another?
The question is in your court. What can you do to make a difference? Can you uncomplicate your life enough so that you can share with one another? Can you uncomplicate your life enough so that you have time for one another? And that includes your wife. Because, if any man care not for the needs of those of his own household, he is worse then an infidel. You can get too busy doing for God, and abdicate the faith in your life, by letting your family go by the wayside. Spirit, Soul, and Body, men, you are the head of the household and your family has needs to meet.
We also need to meet one anothers needs in the church. We need to be one in the Lord, and one in faith, and one in purpose, and one in community and fellowship.
The balls in your court.
Where do we go from here?
Do we leave Jesus' prayer unfulfilled?