That they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. — John 17: 21–22
The unity of the believers comes into being when they are one with Christ.
Jesus asks for His own to be intimately connected with one another—such that they comprise a single entity. In order to describe their unity, He makes reference to His relationship with the Father.
The triune God
The Trinity consists of three divine persons who, although different in terms of their form, are nonetheless one in substance and being. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
- Are always in agreement.
- Share everything; that which belongs to one also belongs to the others (John 17: 10).
- Testify of one another: the Son glorifies the Father, the Father attests the Son (John 5: 37); and the Holy Spirit attests to the Father and the Son.
- Work together for the redemption of mankind.
Oneness with God
“That they also may be one in Us.” Here Jesus requests that we may all be one in God. God created human beings in His image. Adam and Eve lived in intimate fellowship with God and one another. The fall into sin separated them from God and destroyed their unconditional togetherness (Genesis 3: 12). In order to establish unity among human beings, it is first necessary to restore their oneness with God.
“I in them” (John 17: 23). The Son has become Man and has brought His sacrifice in order that mankind may find their way back to fellowship with God. Jesus showed His own how to be one with the Father: He glorified His Father by fulfilling His will and doing His works. Jesus already lives in us through the Holy Spirit, and strengthens us in Holy Communion. In order to be one with Him, let us
- Bring ourselves into line with His will.
- Share His mind (Philippians 2: 5). His friends are to be our friends. His enemy is our enemy.
- Proclaim His deeds instead of praising our own works.
- Serve Him.
We do not need to give up our personality—that is to say, everything that distinguishes us from everyone else—in order to attain this unity. We can be perfectly one despite all our differences by
- Subordinating ourselves to the will of Jesus. No matter how very different we are, all the members of the body of Christ obey Christ, who is the head.
- Sticking together. Let us serve one another and share our joys and sufferings.
- Uniting in the praise of God instead of criticising one another.
When Christ returns, those who have aligned their lives in accordance with the will of the Lord will have fellowship with God. Perfect oneness will become a reality in the new creation, when God is all in all (1 Corinthians 15: 28).
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 22 May 2016 at Midrand Congregation.
— We would love to hear from you on any of these topics. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.