Introduction: The gospel John 17 contains the priestly prayer of Jesus. Here we do not only learn that Jesus is a Priest who prays but we equally learn the most important things in prayer. Jesus did not pray that his disciples should become so rich and fly on private jet; he did not pray that their life should be bird of roses; but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, united and brought safe to heaven. This means that the prosperity of the soul is the best form of prosperity. Therefore, we are called to be men of prayer, we have to make prayer our steering wheel and not our spare tire; to be a Christian without prayer is to be alive without breathing. Beloved in Christ when we pray we shall not fall prey. The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer. However, the basic theme of today is Jesus’ prayer for unity.
What is unity: Unity is the state of being joined together or in agreement. Jesus prays for unity in today’s gospel. Many have tried to hide from this understanding of unity because of the veritable scandal of disunity amongst Christians. The spread of the Good News would have been far reaching if there was no disunity. The function. It enables a fractured world to see the truth in the gospel. Without unity, our message and mission are compromised. There is victory in unity. Disunity makes us victims. To arrest this situation the Church leaders in 1948 came up with “ecumenism”. This tried to narrow the division among Christians until all come into fulfillment of that prayer. This became the basis for Christian association of Nigeria (CAN). This was to challenge all Christians to relates as brothers and sisters beyond denominational divides. This unity is not uniformity but it calls for unity of syllabus.
Unity in the Bible : It is important to understand that there are two types of unity in the Bible.
In Ephesians 4:3, Paul says that we are to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The unity of the Spirit is already a fact for Christians, but we must be diligent to preserve it. Then in Ephesians 4:13, after talking about the ministry of pastors and teachers who equip the saints for the work of ministry, Paul adds, “… until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” This unity of the faith is not yet a reality, but is attained to as we grow to maturity in Christ. We might call these “positional unity,” which is a fact; and “practical unity,” which is a work in progress.
Three main forces against the progress of unity today
SELFISH AMBITION: is being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.Phil.2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The continuous division even in much latter churches today is because of selfish ambition.
GOSSIP. Church members talk about one another instead of talking to one another. In Rom. 1:29 Paul calls church members who gossip people “filled with all unrighteousness”. Everyone has experienced the harm of gossip before. Whether the people talking didn’t mean direct harm, the result of gossip is always broken trust and hurt feelings. Gossip can be defined as information about the behavior or personal life of other people, often without the full truth revealed or known. God’s Word warns us to stay away from people who gossip and to guard our words when we speak about others
LACK OF PRAYER. A church that does not pray together is likely to fragment into special interest groups. To pray together as Jesus prayed is to have unity of prayer agenda. Where there is no prayer everybody is a player. We need to be serious people and pray seriously. To pray seriously is to make our petition rhyme with our actions. as we progress in this means for unity we must pray for it as well. May God bless us with the unity.
Despite our different uniform may we have unity of syllabus. Amen
Rev. Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai