“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, 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. John 17:20-23
Jesus prays for the generations of Believers who will come after the Disciples – namely us. He prays for unity. Why? Well, with so many diverse people in the world with differing opinions and philosophies and competing ideas, unity would be the logical quality we should all possess. But why? “so that the world may believe that you sent me.”
The world is watching us more closely than we think. I hear the talk almost daily at work. They’re looking for authenticity, not perfection. They’re looking for people that aren’t backbiting and complaining at every drop of the hat.
Even though there may be 20 or 50 or 100 churches in your town there is a common thread running through them, though it’s often difficult to see through the various styles of worship, kinds of church buildings, leadership styles, activities, and meeting times. The unifying thread is the doctrines that we all believe: deity of Christ, salvation by grace, resurrection of Christ, the gospel, inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth, and salvation only through Jesus. When congregations depart from these core doctrines they venture into “dangerous” territory. It’s dangerous because not believing in them has caused many many problems throughout the ages.
So, what does all of this mean for you and me?
It means that there are many churches in your town the believe very close to what you believe (and you may not have known it).
It means that if one church calls on another to have a joint worship meeting, it’s okay as long as you both believe the core doctrines.
It means that we have more opportunities to connect to each other than we once thought.
And lastly it also means that because the world is watching. we have more opportunities to the Church is unified despite the hundreds of denominations that exist.