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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
[NOTE: This message was originally published June 1, 2001.]
May 11, 2013
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are.
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me..
John 17:22-23 (The Message*)
When we are drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God, we find ourselves in a new and particular relation to a few of our fellows.
Thomas R. Kelly in A Testament of Devotion
Jesus' fervent prayer for unity in John 17 has long moved me. There are three inter-related fruits of the "glory" that Christ gives us that it is worth highlighting:
- The oneness of each believer with Christ.
- The unity of those who follow Christ with each other.
- The witness to the unbelieving world of Christians in unity.
It is the first of these which probably receives the greatest emphasis in churches as a whole. It is the foundation for the broader unity of which Christ speaks. It is also the bedrock of our existence as a Christian. But it is not the endpoint. It should lead us further.
Thomas Kelly well expresses the second fruit. When we are living in unity with Christ, we have a bond with others who are also in Christ. Kelly appropriately expresses this in the passive tense, because it is a gift of God not something we do. I marvel at how it transcends the worldly differences of culture, ethnicity, class, etc. and even real doctrinal differences. It is a marvelous thing to feel.
However, it is not the product of mere intellectual assent or of a lukewarm commitment to Christ. As Kelly expresses it, it is being "drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God" that brings this fruit. It can be scary to be so drowned, and we often pull back from it. When I am focusing on my differences with another follower of Christ, I find it is because I have pulled at least my head outside of the sea of Christ's living water and allowed myself to be swayed by the world's ways. As the history of hostility between different groups and individuals who profess to be followers of Christ attests, this is an ever present temptation.
The unity of followers of Christ is not only a rich blessing for Christians, it is also a witness to the wider world. It shows to them that following Christ does change us. In our own little Friends in Christ fellowship, we have seen people who are uncertain about Christ meet with us and express to us that they have felt this witness. It is one way Christ reaches out.
Dear friends, live in the love of Jesus Christ. Feel the unity this gives you both with God and with other followers of Christ. Be part of the witness of this unity to a world that needs to know the power of God's love.
* The Message version ©1993 by Eugene H. Peterson.
©2001, 2013 Friends in Christ, Inc.
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Rockville, MD 20850-6168
Document last modified on Saturday, 18-May-2013 20:08:13 EDT