Several centuries ago our Lord prayed for the unity of all who live on the face of this earth. Specifically, His words were these: “I pray that they may be one, as we are one – I living in them, and you living in me – that their unity may be complete.
Of all the prayers that Jesus ever prayed, this one sometimes seems the farthest from being answered, especially in light of the events of recent times. Within the Christian community, for example, there must be at least a hundred different denominations and scores of divisions under each of those. And these organizational divisions certainly do not tell the entire story. Think of all the divisiveness within the various denominations, and the broken fellowship within the local churches, and the out-and-out animosity between individual Christians. Think of all these things, then remember how Jesus prayed that His followers might be one even as He and His Father are one.
Well, I suppose that prayer will be answered in God’s own time and in God’s own way, but right now it surely seems a long way off. In the meantime, you and I should take some time to examine our own lives and try to be certain that we are a part of the answer instead of a part of the problem.
A major emphasis in the public ministry of Jesus was helping men and women, one at a time, put together the broken pieces of their lives. He recognized that the problem with people is sometimes not out-and-out badness, but fragmentation.
Most people’s lives are pulled and yanked and jerked in a dozen different directions. They are so anxious and so upset about so many things that they do not even have time to spend a quiet hour at the feet of Jesus in prayer. And that is a tragedy because we lose sight of the main business of living.
Our main business in life is to become real people – whole, wholesome, integrated, and complete. Until and unless we do that, we can’t really do anything else.
When you were a child and fell into a fit of temper, did you ever hear your mother say, “Pull yourself together?” Well, that’s what we’re talking about here. A chief concern of our Lord was to help people pull themselves together, to take the broken pieces of their lives and organize them around the teachings of the Lord.
Christian unity begins with that. We can never build a unified world out of fragmented people. So we all must start with ourselves.
We need to remind ourselves that togetherness is not so much a matter of location or organization as it is a spirit and attitude. I have seen homes where mother, father, and children all lived in the same house, but there was no unity. Instead, there was division, distrust, animosity and resentment.
Unity is a spirit. It doesn’t mean that we all agree, or think alike, or look alike. It means that we love each other, accept each other, and treat each other with respect.
So what can we do about building a unified world out of fragmented people? The whole thing seems so far out of our hands. Well, Jesus seemed to think that praying was a good idea. He prayed about it; surely you and I could do the same.
Admittedly, His prayer is not yet answered; and it doesn’t seem likely to be answered anytime soon. But I remember a time when Jesus said of another problem: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible“. It’s out of our hands, but it’s not out of God’s hands. We can trust it to Him. In God’s own way, in God’s own time, the prayer of our Lord will be answered; and this fragmented world of ours will be one as He and His Father are one. Keep praying and keep working at it – it will happen one day.