By: Matt Hodges, Missional Communities Director, Bridge Point Community Church
April 29, 2018
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you,
Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
On September 19th, 1796, the American Daily Advertiser published George Washington’s “Farewell Address” to the people of the United States. In the letter, Washington gathered up his twenty years of experience serving our newly formed nation and offered his parting words of wisdom. His final exhortation?
If this new Union was going to succeed, he argued, it would need to remain just that: a union. Its citizens would need to remained committed to one another and to their common mission rather than committed to secondary loyalties and identities. If they allowed themselves to be divided by political and cultural identities, they would compromise the very ideals for which they fought so hard.
As wise and full of foresight that Washington’s words were, though, he wasn’t the first to implore a people to remain unified for the good of their mission.
John’s gospel tells us that, in the moments before his arrest, Jesus left his disciples with a “farewell address” of his own. The discourse ends in his “High Priestly Prayer” offered on behalf of his disciples, which itself culminates in a final request to the Father —a request to help his disciples do one thing for the sake of their mission:
“That they may all be one,” he prayed, “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” According to Jesus, the ability his followers have to display the beauty of the Kingdom hinged on whether or not they remained unified. Their unity—their commitment to one another and to their common mission—was not simply a byproduct of the Gospel, it was itself their key to communicating it to the world. If they were going to fulfill their commission, they would have to do it as one.
It’s easy to look out across the landscape of our country and lament at our inability to heed Washington’s warnings. Even a cursory scroll through social media or a quick glance at the news and it’s readily apparent that we have allowed ourselves to be divided— even polarized—by just about any topic under the sun.
Let us not allow the church to make that same mistake. If there is one people who ought to seek unity instead of uniformity, if there’s one people who ought to celebrate diversity instead of run from it, if there’s one people who sees one another as dignified image-bearers and not simply opinions to agree or disagree with—it’s the church.
May we cling to the common ground we have in Christ. May we all be one in Him, “so that the world may believe.” And may our unity fuel the flames of revival in our city.
Father, we join with our Savior and pray just as he prayed. We ask that, by the power of your Spirit, you would keep us one, just as he and you are one. We ask that you empower us to forsake the things that divide and cling to the things that unify. We confess that our hearts are eager to gravitate toward those who look like us, those who agree with us, and those who are familiar. Would you allow us to instead embrace one another as co-laborers for your namesake. May we find unity in you, Father, so that the world may believe you have sent your Son. Amen.