Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)
One of my favorite passages often read during Holy Week is Jesus’ high priestly prayer contained in John 17. This prayer, from Jesus to the Father, takes up the entirety of chapter 17 and occurred the night before Jesus gave His life on the cross. What was on Jesus’ heart that evening? You were! On the night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed for His present and future disciples. He prayed that they would be partakers of the love He, the Father and the Holy Spirit shared, and He also prayed for the unity of the body of Christ until such time as He returns.
The love of God we are drawn into and the unity of the body of Christ in which we have been placed are not inseparable, even though we may not fully know that love until we see Christ face to face. That is because we share the love of Christ when we are in the company of those who are also followers of Jesus. Twice, in John 17:20-23, Jesus prays that we may all be one, just as Jesus and the Father are One. It is His prayer that our unity will be an expression of the love of the unified Trinity. You may be surprised, however, to see what the church’s unity is meant to accomplish. In verse 21 Jesus indicates that it is “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus prays the same objective for our unity in verse 23: “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.” The unity of the body of Christ is for the purpose of accomplishing its commission, to make disciples. Our shared life is inseparable from our shared mission. The Apostle Paul makes the same connection between our shared life and our shared mission in Philippians 2. Our unity, Paul says, “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” will make us appear as “lights shining in the world, holding fast the word of life,” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:15-16).
Are we sharing life together as the local church? Do we really live life on life with one another? And when we do, are we of the same mind and love and in full accord? If we are truly in Christ, we will grow in our unity and love. That is God’s sovereign will for us. That’s something to consider as we gather to worship on Sundays, meet in the classroom and our small groups, and as we serve together in the ministry of our church. You magnify Christ to the world and are built up yourself when you seek out opportunities to be transformed within the life of the local body of Christ in each of these areas and in others. Remember, there are two things you cannot be alone, married and in the church. As a disciple of Jesus, you were made for His body.