That beautiful thing that is so rare

One of the most precious memories of my late wife are her prayers for me! How many times in the night, when I awakened in a struggle with some issue in ministry, she would put her hand on my forehead and pray for the Spirit to make His peace mine, His wisdom my guide. After she died, I found journals that included little written snippets of prayer and Scripture that she offered for me. What a treasure those prayers were and are.  But there is Another whose prayers for me (and you!) are of inestimable worth – Jesus!

In John 17, one of Jesus’ prayer for us is written down.  He was hours from His own intense sacrifice of reconciliation at the Cross, knowing the anguish that was before Him. And, we were foremost in His mind.  He does not ask the Father to make us rich, to give us lives of ease. He prays for us to be filled with the knowledge of the Father’s will, to be made uniquely useful to His purposes, and then He prays this prayer that is so poignant, and so often goes ignored among Christians.

“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. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23, NIV)  Yes, He prays that we (Christians) will be of one heart, working and living together, to reveal God’s amazing love to our world. Truth be told, we have mostly failed miserably to accept the grace of that prayer, have we not?

Human history is one long tragedy of conflict, war, one group seeking advantage over another. Empires rise and fall on oceans of blood. Individuals push to be first, scheming and conniving for power. It can be seen in families, among children in school yards, in corporations, in politics, and saddest of all – in the church of Jesus Christ. When those outside of Christ look inside and see people playing the same power games, taking the same kinds of offense, using positions for personal enrichment like every where else in the world, many conclude that the Gospel is a fraud. The Name of Jesus is disgraced by our failure to love. Why is it so hard for us to understand Satan’s strategy to keep us from our mission is to “Divide and conquer?”  When we dig in and defend our positions, attacking those who are our brothers, those angry divisions, Paul says, always “give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:27).  We are quick to note the sins of lust and greed, but what of these:  “discord,” “dissensions” and “factions” (Gal. 5:20)?

Christians often hide their arguments behind protests of doctrinal purity but the Word says otherwise. Fighting is a sign of weakness in faith, of a mind that is not yet grasped the principles of Christ, that still is working on the power principles of the world.  Listen to Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians who thought they were protecting God’s work, even as they destroyed it. “For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (1 Cor. 3:3).

So, where does unity come from?  It is an evidence of the supernatural experience of the Love of God that causes us to love people more than our program or agenda. We cannot make ourselves ‘nice.’  The Spirit can, if we allow Him, make us loving. That love, “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)  Paul Thigpen observes – “Unity is not a matter of homogeneity, (being the same) but of harmony. Christians are not all to be alike, but they must find ways to integrate their differences into a symphonic whole—to create a singleness of spirit, of identity, and of purpose whose unifying center is Christ.” (Discipleship Journal  : Issue 101. 1999)

In this Resurrection week, would you join me in praying that prayer of Jesus?
Father, make us one; bring us to complete unity … so that others will know” the grace of Jesus and turn to God.

Here is a word from the Word.  My prayer is that my mind will submit to the truth of it for the glory of God. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6, NIV)


O Come To The Altar

(the place to find healing and hope for unity)

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

 O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

 Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

 Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia Christ is risen
Bow down before him
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia Christ is risen

 Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found 

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye © 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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