Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Oneness - Devotional #5 (John 17:20-23)

By Bunni Pounds

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." 

John 17:20-23

First off, I love it that Jesus was not only praying for His followers and disciples there with Him on earth, but also "for those who will believe in Me through their word." He was praying for us. He continued to spell out His prayers for us: we were in His heart and His thoughts as the "joy set before Him" as He went to His death. This allowed Him to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

What is the true oneness that Jesus was talking about in this passage? Jesus had the same heart and motivations as His Father. As He spent time with the Father in the scriptures and in prayer while here on earth, more vision regarding His life was revealed to Him. Jesus was in human form showing us how to walk with the Father. 

If we want the world to know about Jesus and His greatness, it isn't enough for us to just believe in Him. The Bible says that "even the demons believe and tremble" James 2:19. Belief alone can start the process of transformation, but it isn't enough to convince the world of the glory of God. Only people who find and know His heart and then walk in it displaying their oneness with God to the world will actually reveal the glory of God. If we want to make Jesus famous, we have to KNOW Him and walk with Him on a daily basis. We have to be ONE with Him, not just in theory, but in practice.

The amazing reality is that God doesn’t call us to do anything that His grace and power doesn’t enable us to do and He has demonstrated in His own life lived out.

Here, in this prayer, Jesus said, "…the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one." God gave us all that we need for the journey. We are seated together with Him in heavenly places. We have access to His GLORY. 
It is in that glory that we see what is really important for eternity. It is where our lives come into focus as we see the importance of God's heart and His desire for His people. In the glory, all the stupid, trivial things don't seem to matter so much; we just want to be together with Him in His glory. 

Now let’s talk about oneness in the context of our relationship with the Body of Christ.

Oneness is not sameness. It doesn't mean that we believe every tenet of what someone else believes. It doesn't mean that we line up, precept by precept, with our brothers and sisters next to us. Think of it this way: even when we are WITH God in His holy presence, do we really believe everything that He believes? He would love us to have complete understanding of His ways and His character, but NO, we are being conformed into the image of His Son. We are gaining revelation and knowledge of who He really is, but we are still not the SAME as God.

It is the same with our brothers and sisters in Christ from all walks of life. We are the most ALIKE when we are in the glory of God covered by LOVE, but we are still created with different gifts and expressions. We are all being conformed to the image of Christ at different stages, but we can still be ONE in love.

Oneness is not sameness, yet it is powerful because it is love in the Spirit. It is this LOVE that draws people to this faith called Christianity.

John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Currently, there is a stirring for churches, ministers, and leaders to come together more and work together for the sake of the harvest. This is the oneness that Jesus was talking about here in this passage.

To be clear, He is not talking about us coming “together” as if we are brothers or sisters with Muslims or other religions that deny Jesus as the Christ or “churches” that deny the basic doctrines of Christianity. Those movements demonstrate the spirit of the antichrist laid out in 2 Peter or the book of Revelation. That is not what Jesus was talking about here. Christian ministries - where we have more to pull us together than what divides us – must find unity around prayer, worship, evangelism, and missions to see God’s plan revealed on the earth in these last days. This was the unity that Jesus was praying and interceding for in this chapter.

In April 2017, we had an incredible move of God in the Dallas-FortWorth Metroplex called ReviveTX, where over 360 churches, small and large, Baptists and Charismatics, Pentecostals and Episcopalians, traditional and modern worship styles, came together for the sake of sharing the gospel for 50 targeted days. We prayed together every morning, pastors met together, we worshipped together at night, and we shared the gospel together all throughout each day. Notice the keyword is TOGETHER. It was POWERFUL as almost 3,000 people came to Jesus through our unity and perseverance.

ReviveTX swept up the hungry believers of the city into a vision of how the Church should look and act and changed us forever as we saw God move beyond the four walls of our individual churches. Initially, it was hard for us as leaders to lay down our pride, the competition, our fears; but in the end, those of us who did saw the fruit in our own hearts, the health of our churches, and the city at large. We are still seeing the fruit of this movement - almost a year and a half later.

As we walk increasingly in oneness with God both individually and corporately in our individual churches and the Body of Christ at large, the world will see more of Jesus and His glory. We answer Jesus’ prayer by our obedience to choose love over strife. 

This was Jesus' prayer for us and it will come to pass. 

Download the full 7 day devotional book in pdf form here to print off and study.

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