Accept One Another – The Practical Implications of the Unity for These Last Days ~ Ray E Horton
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).
God is once more emphasizing the love and unity of His children that is so essential to bringing in as many people as possible to His Kingdom in the last Great Awakening.
God’s will for our relationships within the Body of Christ is clear in the prayers of Jesus. In John 17, during His final words to His disciples before going to the Cross, Jesus prayed for our unity. As we see in this verse, protection from the power of the enemy is wrapped up in our unity as we use the power of the name of Jesus.
God’s heart to bring His people together, for that’s where the power is to overcome and change the world. But His people have been more concerned with their version of unity (agreement on non-essential doctrines) than the unity of the spirit and of faith and of love, which Jesus calls for, even prayed for
And we can also see how much the devil hates the power of unity by all the division believers have succumbed to throughout the ages since that time Jesus prayed. It is obviously God’s heart to bring His people together, for that’s where the power is to overcome and change the world. But His people have been more concerned with their version of unity (agreement on non-essential doctrines) than the unity of the spirit and of faith and of love, which Jesus calls for, even prayed for.
This is an amazing passage with Jesus praying for the unity of believers to be like the unity that He has with the Father in the very Godhead of the Trinity.
How important to Jesus is our unity? Notice that Jesus even reinforces the message with more prayer in vs. 20-23 to be sure it is understood for all believers, including us:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Our Unity is of Utmost Importance to Jesus
Will We Finally Take It Seriously?
How important to Jesus is our unity? Unity has always been God’s plan. Back in the Old Testament, King David, in a foreshadowing of Jesus, wrote in Psalms 33:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” The Psalm concludes, “For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.”
Jesus came to bring that blessing of eternal life with Him by redeeming mankind. And unity in the Body is intimately involved in the spread of that blessing to all who see our love and unity and believe.
Paul had a good grasp on the revelation of the importance of unity. And he gave much practical instruction. The church, God’s people, needs to listen now more than ever in these end times. He wrote in Eph. 4:3 to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
How do we do that? He implored them from a prison cell in his day “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, [How?], with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph. 4:1-2). That is His renewed call for us in this day as well.
We find every reason to divide. Yet God, through the inspired writings of Paul, said: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (vs. 4-6).
The world is growing darker and there is a great call on us to be the light of the world and spread the Word of Grace, the Gospel, to all who will listen. To do that, we need to wake up to the power of Christ within us through the Holy Spirit, to the power of the gifts of the Spirit, and possibly most of all, to the power of our unity in Spirit.
Beyond Lip Service, Let Us Radically Come Together
There is much that can and has been done in recent years to foster a unity in the Body of Christ in various places, such as joint leadership prayer and fellowship, combined worship meetings, etc. Much has been sincere, but much has also been lip service, or subservient to our independent and still divided ways of thought and action. It is now time for a radical coming together. But that takes changed hearts, listening to and responding to Jesus pleading that we care more about what He cares about than our petty differences.
And a big part of that will be the practical letting go of differences in our daily lives. What is more important, our right to be right, or our relationships? I’m not talking about compromise of the Word, but respect for the sincere consciences of others in the Body. We are not to try to force our way, or to otherwise ignore and snub our brother or sister, or that other church; but instead, love them and be an example of what we believe.
Once more, Paul had clear revelation on the practical side of unity, from which we need to learn. He wrote in Romans:
“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [external things], but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit [things of the heart]. For anyone who serves Christ in this way [things of the heart] is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom 14:17-19).
What is the Kingdom of God about? In context of Rom 14: walking in love, not creating a stumbling block for others, not disputing or judging the convictions of others concerning the non-essentials of the faith, not destroying God’s work in hearts for the sake of external traditions.
Life in the kingdom of God is freeing, but we too often try to impose our own traditions and rules over other people’s convictions on things the Bible does not address or make clear. This is all really about loving our neighbor.
Paul continues this line of thought in Rom. 15, saying in vs. 1-2, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” Our patience and the comfort of the Scriptures brings hope to others (vs.4).
Paul adds in vs. 5-6, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement [He gave the example and gives us the ability] give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“If you will take the message of unity in My Body, My Bride, seriously,” says the Lord, “doing your part in your relationships first, I will give you the power to be a greater influence in your churches and among leaders to actively seek practical, ongoing, and significant outreach and unity among My children and churches...”
In other words, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (vs. 7). And I sense the Lord saying:
“If you will take the message of unity in My Body, My Bride, seriously,” says the Lord, “doing your part in your relationships first, I will give you the power to be a greater influence in your churches and among leaders to actively seek practical, ongoing, and significant outreach and unity among My children and churches. And I would remind you that ‘Significant’ means more than token events, as good as they may be, but rather a new dedication to showing your love and unity to the world, non-stop. As you use that influence in faith, know that I have already spoken to many of their hearts, and all they need is a little push of encouragement prompted by My Spirit,” says the Lord.
Going back to Jesus’ final message before the cross, He said in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” As He has loved us! – How is that possible? He tells us in vs. 26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me, and you also will bear witness…”
The Holy Spirit has come, and He empowers us to love, which is what bears witness to the world. In fact, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).
So we are without excuse! Let us pray and do our part by reaching out to all believers, declaring the message of unity in faith, encouraging and being a part of the fulfillment (Finally!) of Jesus’ prayer to facilitate the advance of His Kingdom now.
[Your thoughts and reactions are welcome in comments. What is the Lord telling you about letting Him inspire you to help facilitate the unity that Jesus prayed for – now? – Ray.]