Sunday, 3rd June, 2019 [Communion Service]
- Acts 16:16-34
- Revelations 22:12-21
- John 17:20-26
Hymn of meditation: PH 602
“Love one another”, said the Lord,
“Love others, as I have loved you”,
Love one another, with pure love,
O Jesus, give me this pure love.
The theme of unity should be of interest to every Presbyterian because our Church motto says “That they all may be one”. It’s a call for unity and indicates clearly, the desires of Jesus Christ for unity.
The third reading from John 17:20-26 constitutes part of Jesus’ Priestly prayer. In this prayer, He underscores His desire for unity and raises for us a few issues to reflect upon as we consider this theme.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”(NIV)
- What exactly is Jesus praying for?
- For whom exactly is He offering this prayer for unity?
- What kind of unity is Jesus talking about?
- To what end or purpose is this prayer offered?
These are some of the questions we need to reflect on at this moment
THE TARGET GROUP
Many who read this would understand it as all people becoming united. Afterall, all human beings are made in the image of God, and therefore one would expect that it will be the desire of Jesus that all those made in the image of God would become one and be united.
Indeed, I’ve come across people who present the motto of the Presbyterian Church in these terms, but it’s obvious from this passage that Jesus’ prayer was not for all of humanity. His prayer was for His disciples; those who have agreed to follow Him. Those who have put their faith in Him and then for all those who would also come to believe in Him on the basis of the preaching of the disciples
So, the target group that Jesus prays for is His followers; those who have come to faith in Him as Lord and Saviour of their lives. So, if you acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then the theme is calling upon you to maintain the unity of the body.
“The body” is a metaphor often used in reference to the Church, especially in the writings of Paul. He talks about the Church as the body of Christ. So, it is the followers of Jesus Christ who constitutes the Church that Jesus prays for that they may be united and it is only those who are part of the church, who are part of the body and part of the faith in Jesus Christ who can maintain the unity of the body. If you are not a member of the church, you cannot maintain its unity.
So, my dear Christian friends, if this morning you acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, you are reminded of your responsibility to help maintain this unity. Are you part of the body?
We’ve been lamenting about fighting going on in the Northern part of Ghana among ethnic groups. When we became independent as a nation, though we belong to different ethnic groups, we have sought to forge an identity that would unite us all, yet, we are keenly aware of all the challenges we face.
Since it is human beings that constitute a church or a nation, the danger of division and conflict is real at all times. Indeed, if that was not the case, Jesus would not have prayed for the unity of the church that “They all may be one”. The pattern of unity He prays for is the kind that exists between Him as Son and His Father within the Godhead, is the kind that He desires for His followers.
This kind of unity is characterized by a common will and purpose, action that are consistent with this common will and purpose; that the Father sends the Son and the Son would come into the world to fulfil the purpose He share with the Father in terms of salvation for humankind.
so when Jesus prays that all His followers would become united, we are being invited to follow the pattern of unity that exist between the Father and the Son. If we all individually do the will, then we will be one. If our love for God would enable us.
We are also invited to live the life that existed between Father and Son that led to obedience even unto death to redeem man. If we love one another, there are things we will never do to those we claim to love. You will not deceive or exploit the one you claim to love. You will make sacrifices to other as they also make sacrifices for you.
What do we see now? We are not united. We are preoccupied with doing our own will and following our own desires, undermining the unity of the body hence, travelling on the road to disintegrating the church.
Beloved, let’s examine ourselves. Are we maintaining the unity of the body or even now, there are fellow Christians that we would have nothing to do with. Beloved, are we living according to the pattern set for us; in the communion of the Father and Son relationship?
TO WHAT END ARE WE INVITED TO MAINTAIN THE UNITY OF THE BODY?
Significantly, Jesus, in this prayer, says His desire is that the kind of relationship that exists between Him and the Father will be replicated among His followers and that His followers will see the glory that the Father has given to Him.
If we are united and faithful, we shall see the glory of Christ and seeing the glory of Christ is becoming enveloped by that glory. It won’t just be a case of seeing it but experiencing and becoming a part of it.
In the second reading from Revelations 22:12-21, Christ is coming back. The question remains: are we united as the people of God that when He comes, we shall see His glory? It is only the faithful who will experience His glory. Wil you be part of it? Do you live in consistency with the will of God?
In our traditional settings, one of the key ways we demonstrate unity among families and friends is eating together from the same bowl. It’s a critical mark of our sense of unity as people. It testifies to what binds us together.
So, today, as we draw near to the holy table of Jesus Christ, we need to remind ourselves of this call to maintain the unity of the body. As we eat together at the Lord’s table, our sense of unity must be reinforced. So, if you are at loggerheads with somebody, engaged in a lifestyle that is in disobedience to the Lord, then you must ask yourself how eating at the Lord’s table can reflect the sense of you being a part of the body of Christ.
Beloved in the Lord, the call is upon us to maintain the Unity that Jesus Christ so strongly desires for and prayed for that it will be our portion as His followers.
May the almighty God who has called us in His Son Jesus Christ empower us to live day in and day out in obedience to His will that we can maintain the unity of the body faithfully until His coming so we may experience His glory.