Read: John 17:20-23

So that the world may believe . . . (v. 21)

Did you know there are more than 45,000 Christian denominations in the world? We Christians are experts at dividing. We’ve been dividing since the first centuries of the church. We split over theology, politics, worship, sacraments, morality, and all manner of issues. Many attempts through time have been made to unite the church. We convene councils, confess creeds, and write catechisms. And still we split. How can this be?

Christian unity cannot be artificially formed through statements and programs. It’s not a project to be implemented as much as it is a reality to be experienced. This is the essence of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” (v. 21). Christian unity begins in the eternal unity of the Father and the Son. It’s this oneness that Jesus prays for believers to experience: “just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (v. 21). When individual believers pursue union with Jesus, unity among believers becomes a lived reality, which in turn fulfills Jesus’ desire “that the world may know that you sent me and loved them” (v. 23).

With sin still wreaking havoc, it’s not likely that we’ll see a fully united Christianity until heaven. Between now and then, however, perhaps we could focus on our union with Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, if we make Jesus the center of our concern, we may taste a bit more of the sweet wine of oneness with other believers. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to unite your heart to his.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Jesus' Last Prayer