Oneness: The Place to Live
John 17:20-23 — I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may 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: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Please read the above passage again and again. Immerse yourself in it until the full power of Jesus’ request before the Father overwhelms every fiber of your being.
If Jesus is to be the lead pastor, then we must surrender our rights to live within the parameters of His divine request: Oneness, love, and glory must define our attitude within the believing community.
This kind of intentional oneness becomes a witness to the world that Jesus was sent, that they are loved, and that they may believe. What good does it do to have a sophisticated mission statement accompanied with energetic outreach programs if the home base is in pride-driven turmoil?
Paul said it this way: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Oneness is both a position we enter into and a practice which is lived out daily.
On one occasion we had a staff member that always brought a negative spirit to our staff prayer meetings and planning meetings. In my exhaustion with it, I knelt by my chair, claimed my oneness with him in Christ, then asked for the enablement of God’s Spirit to respond lovingly to him when we were together. Within a few days the Lord graced him with repentance of a secret sin and oneness was restored.
Jesus died and rose again for our oneness and it is delightful. David poetically described it like this:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
When we work on oneness in the Spirit of Jesus’ prayer, it is both fragrant—refreshing—and fruitful. A people who live like this will live in a place of blessing.
If this is how Jesus prayed, then certainly this is how He would lead. And if we follow Him, there we will be in a place where we can hear from the Spirit (Revelation 2,3).
From Belief to Behavior
As an under shepherd who is abiding in the Vine (I call these “branch leaders”) regularly remind the flock of Jesus’ request for Oneness and then nurture them to pray together in accord with Scripture and in the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). We may not always agree on everything, but we can be in oneness about the main thing.