In a passage that beautifully lays out the redeeming work of Christ; the saving, sanctification and glorification of those who put their trust in Him, Jesus had one central prayer for His followers—that they would be united. His prayer extended beyond those with him on that night to all who would come to faith—for you and for me; for the church throughout the ages: that all of them may be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (17:21)
This prayer, this hope Jesus has for the church was reiterated through the teaching of the Apostle Paul who exhorted the church in Ephesus: Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. (4:3) He said the same thing to the Christians in Rome: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)
Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:19)
If unity, if togetherness plays such a critical role in the life of the followers of Christ, if it is the one way those outside of Christ would come to believe the truth of Gospel, what do you think the strategy of the evil one is going to be as he seeks to oppose the ways of God and the people of God, the church?
Disunity and disharmony are not the ways of God. In a world filled with conflict and division, the prayer of our Lord was that His follower would live life differently; that they would model to an unbelieving world a better way; that they would be a community of people who love one another deeply from the heart. (1 Peter 1:21) His desire is that we would live out and model forgiveness and grace; that we would build up and encourage one another so that others might look at the church and see something different; that they might be drawn to One who makes us different.
We are not perfect at Valley, but we have been blessed with a spirit of unity and love for one another that is real and powerful. So my friends at Valley, I write these words to encourage you to cherish and protect what we have, that Christ may continue to be honored among us and that others may see that living a life of faith in Jesus Christ really is the best possible way to live.
Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. (Hebrews 10:24)