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Relating Unity and Perfection

universeSomething happened as I read John 17 on Sunday. My pastor was reading from this chapter and expounding on it, but as is so often the case in good preaching, the Holy Spirit started showing me something more.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. –John 17:22-23

This is called the high-priestly prayer of Jesus and if you haven’t read the entire chapter in a while, go read it. He makes clear He’s talking about the disciples in that timeframe as well as “those also who believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20), which means you and me.

Think about the power of oneness and unity–the glory that Jesus is talking about here! That is the ultimate intimacy and connection to God, His purposes, and heart. It’s love, His love, both inside and outside.

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. –Colossians 3:14

Receiving His love and being clothed with it brings unity. And that’s what struck me as I read this on Sunday: we tend to think unity comes when perfection comes, but Jesus asked that we be made one so that we can be perfected.

This is exactly opposite of what most if not all major religions teach. You hear about transcendence and becoming one with the universe or divinity. It’s all predicated on your being able to achieve perfection or some measure of it.

Sadly, Christians have fallen into the same trap. They believe they will have unity with the heart and purposes of God only when they get past this sin or that problem. It becomes an ever shifting and elusive target that can never be reached.

Jesus says here in essence, “Father, bring them into our divine unity. They are imperfect, messy failures but in I know in that unity that they’ll be on their way to being perfected.”

Unity is not the end goal. It is the starting place.

Does that blow you away as it does me? It means apart from true unity, His unity, with other believers and our God, we are stuck. But in His glorious love, we are being renewed and changed. Perfection is taking hold.

That doesn’t mean you don’t still make mistakes or errors in judgment or anything else. It means you are submitted to Him and one another and He’s changing you. Why? so that the world may know. The Father sent the Son and He loved us, in the same way the Father loves Him.

What do you think? Have you seen unity and being perfected in this way before? Does it challenge you? Why or why not?

6 Comments

  1. “Unity is not the end goal. It is the starting place.” Oh amen to that brother! If we could just see the unity we share already and embrace how much God has done for us…man, we would see each other in a far different light. Thanks Bro’!

    • Such a key--seeing what He’s done and living in that victory and reality. We can never add to it or take away from it. We just choose whether we live in it or not. Holy Spirit, show us your path of light and truth! Thanks Jay.

  2. Good one, Jason. I actually have these thoughts often, today in fact. Me being a mess is only relieved by knowing that it’s His love, grace, and mercy, that sets us free from guilty as charged; in need of our Savior.

    • Exactly, and what God keeps showing me and reminding me is that I’m in a process and He is working and I am changing. Sometimes I can feel so beaten down because of what I am or what I’m not, but His love makes all the difference as I submit myself. Thanks Floyd!

  3. Well without unity the church would stop existing as a whole. As a matter of fact, once a Christian stops attending church, unity stops existing period. But then again…I’ve been to churches that claim to have unity, but are actually dead once service is over.
    Ed recently posted..Something different -- LemonsMy Profile

    • You’re so right--what I want is not just us talking about unity or thinking we might have it. I want the true unity of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. The Church plays a huge role in that for sure. Thanks Ed.

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