1997-12-04 - Perfected in Unity
The Cross Series, Part 19
The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
I found it a little ironic that here we are marching toward the cross of Calvary as we approach Christmas. Last year you and I looked at a few of the special characters of the story surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus. The wonderful, special people that God orchestrated into place and time for His purposes were delightful and interesting. As powerful as the entrance of the Creator into His creation was, the purpose of that event was to redeem the fallen race of humanity. The march toward the cross began in the manger. Jesus purpose in being born into this life was to die in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God. So, while there is irony in the fact that last year we were looking at the beginning of the journey and this year we look at the end, it is the same journey. And the foot prints in the sand that we follow as Christians are marked with nail scars. PTL!
John 17:19-23 "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. 22 "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.
The word sanctified has such a pious, holy tone to it. To sanctify something is to set it aside for the service of God. Anything may be sanctified from a car to a building to someone's time or money. Just like the golden bowls and knives of the Temple were sanctified, so are you and I by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked to have Himself set aside for the purpose of the Father. He set aside His will, His personal feelings and pleasures, and His very life. This is not to say that Jesus' whole life was not devoted to His Father. But at this time He is preparing Himself for the cross He knows is very, very near.
Jesus asks for our sakes as well as His own. All who believe would include those who believed in the ages past that Messiah would come, and we who would come to believe in the centuries that had not yet been. The crux of this request is that we all who do believe might be one. Like any other aspect of our Christian life, there are areas that range from gleaming success and dim failure. There are places where we bridge cultural and denominational boundaries and have wonderful, intimate friendships with other believers. There are also places where we squabble over the petty, insignificant points of doctrine or scripture becoming divisive and arrogant in the process.
Jesus asked the Father to give us His glory. Try to imagine the glory of Jesus. It is limitless, and He would pass it along to us. We are to reflect His glory to the world for them to see. It is to be a testimony to changed lives and peace in our hearts. These are things that the world craves and refuses to believe that we actually have. Notice that the petty differences are often noted as examples of why this church can not be anything more than a crutch. And still, we know in our hearts that peace that passes all understanding, that unspeakable treasure that each man and woman seeks.
2 Cor 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
If we can learn to see what is important: not the dead battery, the child who can't make up his mind, the committee squabbling and see the things that are: the jumper cables in the trunk, the child, the time and ability to lend time to an extra activity like a committee. All these things represent a service to someone else. To that stranger in the grocery store parking lot with a baby in the car and a toddler in tow, the sound of the engine roaring to life after leaving the lights on one foggy morning will mean more than they will be able to express. The patience of a parent to a son or daughter will be returned as they learn patience from your example. To have the reputation as the peacemaker on that committee will open doors to share the source of that peace. And it will have the credence of your previous behavior to support it.
If we were perfected in unity, as Jesus suggests, the world may still decry their state as they search for peace. They may even attempt to belittle the church of Jesus Christ. But their arguments would be devastated by the unity of believers able to see past the small things and agree on the important things. Is Jesus Lord to the glory of God the Father? If He is, then seeking this unity should be our tantamount purpose as His children.
Jesus, Help us as a small circle of believers being the process of unity. Keeping the important things You taught us in focus, and being open to discuss and allow leeway on things that are not important. If we can become lights in that focus, together we would become lights at the edge of the safe harbor leading ships to safety from the storms of the world and the enemy. Teach us from our faults and failings, use them to crush our pride. Mold us into the people that You would us to be. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.