the sign | John 17.20-23
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23 | ESV
“And now I widen the focus of my request beyond these here with me right now to the all of those flocking to me because of what they will say in days to come. What do I want? All of them living in deep, harmonious unity, just as we do – you, Abba in me, me in you, and they in us. Such deep, harmonious unity will be the only selling point the wide world will need to be sold on the reality that you fully back my mission here, that you in fact are the origin of my mission here! You passed your Divine beauty to me, and I passed it right on to them that they might experience the same deep, harmonious oneness that we experience with each other: I in them, you in me – fully realized, fully rendered Divine oneness that will cause the wide world to sit up and take notice that you sent me here, and that you have loved them just as you have loved me.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”
That’s Peterson’s Message rendition of the classic text in Ephesians 4:4-6.
The “seven one’s” – one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. It’s so easy to see this as the basis for cobbling together a theological platform that we can all accept and then work towards unity – rather than seeing it as an expression of our common experience that should lead us to accept one another.
This isn’t a list of what we need to agree on.
It’s what we have in common.
Historically we have endeavored to create unity through conference and debate. Sometimes it has worked – and when it does, it’s without question been because the primary means of unity has been embraced at the same time: prayer. Too many discussions turn into debates that only solidify the differences and harden the walls. I suppose we can say that at least they let us know where we stand. Too bad that usually means we are left standing on the opposite sides of even thicker partitions – which only leads unbelieving onlookers to conclude that this is just “business as usual.” Why do I need this Jesus for that? Earthly political parties and their leaders can and do accomplish the same thing! Partisanship, rivalry, and division is the way the world does business.
But now look among a gathering of diverse people with divergent backgrounds and even more diverse views on a host of issues, and yet watch them working hand in hand – and being too busy to pick a fight with each other, but actually seeming to enjoy each other, actually seeming to be “permeated with Oneness.” Glory. That’s what that is. Glory. What is God’s glory but Divine beauty put on display for all to see and bask in. Jesus says this is how the world will know.
Put away your carefully crafted arguments and your religious nuances.
Let them see this deep, experiential Oneness among people who are otherwise so diverse, so unlike each other.
And they will come.
Oh yes, they will come.
To what extent do you experience life as something “permeated with oneness”? In what area of your life would you most like to experience more of this oneness?
Lord, show me how to receive others the way you have received me. Show me how to embrace others the way you have embraced me. Give me a deeper taste of oneness with you, and let this spill over into every other relationship in my life. Through Christ.