John 17:11 (KJV) 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
The Father has given His wonderful Name to the Son. It’s His very same Name that keeps or protects us. And one of the reasons His Name is keeping us is the oneness of His people—the church. The kind of oneness or unity he desires for us is that which is very intimate—as close as the oneness of the Father and the Son.
The unity of the church is very important to our Lord Jesus. It’s something I personally treasure, pray for, and pursue. Churches, preachers, and teachers talk about this, support and uphold this truth. But many of the actions I see seem to be very different.
An attack against the unity of the church is an attack against the Name of the Father. Our Father loves the Son, the Son loves His church—it’s His body. The Lord told us He will destroy those who destroy His temple. That’s completely understandable; we take that seriously. We pray that others humble themselves and honor the Name that protects them. As for us, we’re committed to it. We may not be as numerous as the needed voices, but we’re not silent.
John 14:9 (KJV) 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
Because of His amazing love and intense desire to have a loving relationship with us, our great God revealed Himself in the best and most personal way so far; He did this by sending His beloved Son—our precious Lord Jesus. Through our dear Jesus, God—His wonderful being, His astonishing ways, and His awesome power is now understood inestimably more. Yes, there were and are other ways God reveals Himself. We who genuinely seek for truth, we see that incontrovertible proofs of God’s reality abound; they’re all around us.
The greatest and the clearest of all these undeniable evidences is our Lord Jesus. He is the exact and perfect representation of our Father—so close that seeing Jesus is seeing the Father. Of course, here lies many of the reasonable questions and dangerous misunderstandings, confusions, and even doubts and disbeliefs. But I humbly caution: our lack of understanding about the truth isn’t the same as non-existence of truth. And my earnest encouragement: our trivial differences ought to not trump our much needed love for each other.
Remember: it’s by our clear and unpretentious love for each other as His children that we are known by the unbelieving world as our Lord Jesus’ true disciples, not necessarily because of our uniformity in understanding all the great truths about our infinite God. Here’s my humble understanding about the relationship of our heavenly Father and His dear Son—our Lord Jesus. The Father and the Son are two different entities: the Father doesn’t transform into the Son; the Son doesn’t transform into the Father. The Father is a spirit, and the Son is the fullness of the Godhead bodily—that is, the Father lives in Him. The Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father. Clearly, they’re two different entities, but it’s no problem seeing them as one.
Allow me just to echo and express a joyful and reverent praise: “Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD God Almighty—God in three ‘Persons’—blessed Trinity.”
John 17:23 (KJV) 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
The Father and the Son share such inexplicable oneness that to see the Son is to see the Father. They are perfect in their unity and intimacy: The Father is in the Son; The Father and the Son are one. Amazingly, that same relationship the Father has with the Son is the same relationship the Son has with us—His children, His church. As the Father is in the Son, so is the Son in us. As the Father and the Son have perfect oneness, so does the Son and the church.
One of the clearly expressed purposes of all the oneness they share is so that we as His disciples may also have perfect oneness. We ought to neither undermine nor diminish the importance of our unity; it’s a high call to the church; it’s a prayer that flows from the heart of our precious Lord Jesus Himself. It’s a prayer still so far from being achieved. Sadly, many of our churches march to the drumbeat of personal, or pastoral, or denominational pride. Many leaders are more engaged in lifting the banner of their unique personal interpretations of the Word and their denominational distinctives rather than pursuing the loving unity brought about by our common core beliefs—cardinal doctrines we share altogether as one body.
Many Christians faithfully labor—spending a lot of time, energy, and effort presenting the Lord Jesus to the world. And that’s admirable and praiseworthy. But they also negate the efficacy of their efforts because of the very obvious disunity that they create. This ought to stop. Our earnest prayer is that our Lord’s prayer for unity be answered. We on our part work to be an answer to His prayer. He has revealed a Kingdom key that will open the doors of people’s eyes so that they will see the authenticity of Jesus as the Messiah sent and loved by the Father, that we’re truly experiencing God’s love in and among us. That’s why we highly value our oneness. That’s why we passionately pursue the unity of our Lord’s church.