May They All be One (John 17:21)

called to be one

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (one love)
There is one question I’d really love to ask (one heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (one love)
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (one song)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation 

One love (what about the one heart?), One heart (what about the?)
Let’s get together and feel all right
I’m pleading to mankind (one love), Oh Lord! (one heart)
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right
Let’s get together and feel all right

One Love/People Get Ready – Bob Marley/Curtis Mayfield

For many years, the secular poets and prophets have hinted, sometimes not subtly, at the call to unity. Although they were calling our broader world together, it is the church’s calling as well.

As a youngster, I remember the first time I recited the Apostle’s Creed. It was surprising. Recital of creeds is not commonplace among evangelicals. Maybe that’s why it made an impression. I also remember stumbling over “the holy catholic church” line. I knew I wasn’t a Roman Catholic, so what was that about? I was also brought up very conservative (shocking to some of you I am sure), so I had heard all the warnings against those terrible “ecumenicals”. They were well on their way down the slippery slope, and we didn’t want to go sliding into hell with them. Clearly, I hadn’t been taught about small “c” catholic.

Jesus’ prayer for the unity of his followers in John 17 should rock us to our core. I’m realistic enough to know why we have different tribes. I also deeply value my EFCC tribe. Yet, we should probably read Jesus’ prayer and wonder if somehow, we have missed something. Scripture piles on with a passage like the front end of Ephesians 4 where Paul reminds us to be patient and make allowances, and to make every effort to keep yourselves together in the unity of the Spirit. Or a passage like 1 John 4 where John reminds us that if we say we love God but not our brother or sister we are liars.

Wow. That hurts! At least it does if we hold those passages up as mirrors in which to view ourselves.

Has our need to be right hurt our ability to be together?

I’m not against being right, but since we all see through the glass dimly, I suspect we have an elevated view of how much we have right. After all, good Bible believing Christians can hold almost diametrically opposed views, having formed those views through the study of the word, and claim they are right. So, which view is right? And is being right really the most important thing? Or is love for one another more important?

We think uniformity brings unity. After all, “Cloneliness is next to godliness, right?” (It’s a great day whenever you get to quote Steve Taylor). But the fact that Jesus had to pray for unity, meant there would be difference. Uniformity would mean Jesus prayed unnecessary words. Our diversity is remarkably beautiful if we can appreciate it. Yet it makes unity a challenge.

I suspect our fractured world needs to see a beautiful mosaic of diverse unity more now than ever before. Could it be our greatest apologetic? Jesus seemed to think so: “Everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What if, in our desire to be right, we got this one thing down – we grow into a radically loving diverse community of faith? Isn’t that who we are called to be? I know that is messy. I know that requires supernatural love. I know that adhering to a list of dos and don’ts that makes us all look alike is simpler.

But Jesus wasn’t calling us into simple. He called us into a new life, lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As people in the EFCC, I think we have a unique opportunity to model what this looks like for other believers. Our ethos is built around this motto, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials charity, in all things Jesus Christ.” If we lived this motto well, we would embody Jesus’ unity prayer. May we truly do so.

Neil Bassingthwaighte
ServeCanada Director & Interim Prayer Catalyst