There are a few sections recorded in the New Testament where Jesus comes across abundantly clear. Well, at least he spoke in plain language. One of them is John 17. I think this passage is very important because we observe God praying to God about us. If there is one passage that I would stake as a starting point it would be the following because it clearly expresses what Jesus’ heart is for us.
“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one —I in them and you in me — that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
(Joh 17:20-23 NET)
I’d be lying to you if I fully understand what Jesus’ hope here is but I know it is about connection and love. Jesus wants us to participate together in the loving fellowship of the Trinity. As Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in the Son Jesus is praying that we would be in each other. Even the word translated one literally means in or into when used in a spatial sense. Jesus desires that we return to a place of connectedness with each other and God.
Jesus believes that if his followers were united in knowing Christ’s love and glory the world would notice. I believe him. The primary source of division in the body of Christ isn’t our theological differences, it is our vanity which is merely compensation for our shame. We need to let go of the need to prove our worth to each other and ourselves and accept the worth that Jesus has already declared that we have. I don’t believe the unity Jesus speaks here is an organizational, theological, or denominational unity.
One of the best pictures of this is a healthy marriage. I really love my wife and as time has passed I feel more connected with her. When she hurts I hurt. I rejoice with her. I feel for her. I share my joy with her. We are connected and as we live together we bond in ways that reveal we have picked up each others best qualities. I am in her and she is in me in some sense that I don’t understand. I believe that our journey on earth somehow masks the deeper spiritual understanding of our connection to each other.
I’ve come to believe that the primary purpose of God’s people in this world is to come together as an expression of the Father’s love and invite the people of this world in to that relationship.