Bible Reading: John 17:1-26
Jack Heyford described the praying of Jesus in John chapter seventeen as a threefold petition – that He may be glorified [v.1-5], that the disciples may be sanctified [v.6-19], and the church may be united [v.20-26] [Spirit-Filled Life Bible]. Jesus had specifically prayed for His disciples [John 17:6,9], and now prays for all who would believe on Him through the message of His disciples. His prayer was that through them the world would believe on Him. For this to happen He specifically prayed for two things:
Firstly, those who believe would be united. This was far more than simply having one purpose, or even having a common enemy. Unity is neither uniformity nor unanimity, and transcends denominational differences. It is a unity based on our relationship with God, and His glory [His character and attributes] being upon and in us. This unity does not consider social standing or religious affiliation. This unity is being one in Christ Jesus. I once heard Billy Graham say as he preached, “If a man loves God, and loves his brother, then he is my brother!” This is the unity of the Spirit, and Paul urges people to maintain that unity [Ephesians 4:3].
Secondly, that they would love one another. One of the key ingredients of true unity is love. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” [John 13:35 NLT]. Jesus prayed that the love of the Father and the Son would be in them, and that the world would know that He loved them [John 17:23].
It is the love of the Father and Son in us. The word love is the Greek word agape. Rick Renner says of agape, “It is a love that loves so profoundly that it knows no limits of boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient… Agape is the highest form of love – a self-sacrificial love that moves the lover to action” [“Sparkling Gems from the Greek, p.525].
It is the world recognizing that the Father and Son love us – John writes, “that the world would know that He loved them” [John 17:23]. The world needs to see that we are deeply loved by God! That is what makes the difference! Not all that looks like love is love. There is a syndrome that looks like love, but has its roots in deep insecurity. It is the meeting the needs of others because of a personal need to feel needed. It doesn’t take people long to recognize a wrong motive! Jesus commands us to “remain in His love” [John 15:9]. Jesus praised the Church in Ephesus for its perseverance, hard work, and love of the truth, but tragically had to rebuke them because they had left their first love. Let the world see that God loves you!
Read Romans 5:5. Is there a fellow Christian whom you struggle to love? Would you confess your lack of love for that person and ask God to fill you with His love for them?
Are you personally secure in God’s love for you? In what ways does that security show itself in your daily living?