Jesus prays for the unity of his followers and Paul commands it, yet we don’t comply
The last thing Jesus does before his arrest and execution is to pray. The last part of his prayer is for the unity of his future followers (John 17:20-26). Yet two thousand years later, we still wait for Papa to answer this imperative request from his Son. We are not one, far from it.
When John records Jesus’s prayer for unity, he uses a poetic flare. But when Paul later writes about the necessity of unity, he is direct and unequivocal.
Paul says we must “make every effort” to live in unity, to pursue peace. To underscore this essential need for us to live in harmony, Paul reminds us that there is one church and one Spirit. We have one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (that’s a hard one for many folks to accept), and one Father God.
With all of this oneness that surrounds our faith, why do we feel a need to divide it and divide us? It is our sin that causes division. It is our human nature that results in us moving in direct opposition to Jesus’s prayer and Paul’s command. Our selfishness and lack of godly righteousness has resulted in a plethora of churches to pick from on any given Sunday and the 43,000 denominations in our world today. That’s a lot more than the one that Jesus and Paul envision and desire.
Jesus prays for our unity. Jesus and his Father model unity. Paul commands unity and then explains why a lack of unity makes no sense. Yet we persist in our division with ungodly fervor and in unbiblical error, when we should make every effort to live as one.