Friday, July 12, 2013

ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν – Christian Unity

John 17:20-26 "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21  that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. 22  The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24  Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25  "Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26  I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

This is an extract from a prayer attributed to Jesus. Obviously this is not a direct quote, because Jesus was alone and John could not have captured the exact words. What we have is a reconstruction of the kind of longings of the heart of Jesus for his disciples; a prayer “that they all might be one” (να πάντες ν σιν). The truth is that by the time John’s Gospel came to be written, the followers of Jesus were divided! There were divisions between Jews and Gentiles; between rich and poor; between educated and uneducated. John’s writing was intended as a reminder to this fledgling community to find their unity – a unity not based on common cultural norms, or common religious rituals. Rather this was a unity based in a common call on their lives to follow Jesus.  

We too walk in the shadow of this prayer of Jesus. Let us resist those who would want us to deny our culture, or our own uniqueness, in order to “fit in” with other Christ followers. Equally, let us not try to make others conform to our way of following Jesus. Our Christian unity if found in mutual respect for our common call to follow Jesus in service to humanity.

"That they may be one"


What Shall Our Greeting Be
What shall our greeting be:
Sign of our unity?
May we no more defend
Barriers he died to end:
Give me your hand, my friend:
One Church, One Lord!

What is our mission here?
He makes his purpose clear:
One world, one Lord!
Spirit of truth descend,
All our confusions end:
Give me your hand, my friend:

He comes to save us now:
To serve him is to know
Life's true reward.
May he our lives amend,
All our betrayals end:
Give me your hand, my friend:

Fred Pratt Green
Words © 1975 Hope Publishing Company

Sixth Sunday after Trinity
37 The Church for Others
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 231.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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