“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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23 NIV).
This was Jesus’ prayer and wish in the garden.
Unfortunately, we are far gone from what Jesus is saying here. Go ahead and ask yourself, “What defines you as a Christian as far as believing in God and lifestyle?”
There’s a good chance you named a Christian denomination. In fact, the denomination you just named probably disagrees with another denomination, and so on. Since this pattern exists, and we know of at least 33,000 Christian beliefs, it’s safe to say that all of these denominations will disagree with one another.
Christians are guilty of it. We are guilty of it. I am guilty of it.
“You should dress this way, you shouldn’t dress that way. Women should always wear a veil when they pray. Men should be cleanly shaven in the midst of ministry. You must have a license to be a minister and complete a certain amount of years in Bible college to do so. Is God one God? No he is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. You can be saved by saying the sinner’s prayer. No, only through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. What counts as a sin? What doesn’t count as a sin? Either way, you’re wrong and we are right.”
Disagreement upon disagreement that has been going on for centuries. Martin Luther, St. Augustine, John Calvin. The reformation, the division. Our separation amongst each other. I am sure that it truly breaks the heart of the one who prayed in the garden.
What are all these things worth? To argue viciously over the internet over how the bible should be followed. To criticize our very own brothers and sisters just because they did something you didn’t necessarily agree with in your denominations eyes. What are all these pharisaic rules worth if they don’t lead to the one true thing that saved the world? Love. If these things do not lead to love, then we are missing the whole point.
Believing in Christ isn’t about who lives a better life than one another, or who came to church every Sunday. It’s about love, grace and compassion, just as Jesus showed the world. It’s about loving those who don’t even deserve it, just as we didn’t deserve it when Christ died on calvary for us. Forgiving those who have hurt you and caring for the needy. These are not popular things, but hey, Jesus wasn’t necessarily the most popular guy on the planet either. Be that guy.
I am not requesting that we start a new “World Wide United Church” of some sort, nor a new bible that everyone can agree on. No. But I will work tirelessly to become united with those who believe in Jesus and his love for this world.
So to those who believe in Christ: Baptist, Pentecostal, or any other 33,000 denominations in this world, I am with you. Because when we finally come into unity, just as Jesus wished, then the world can really see who Jesus really is. His love, grace and mercy. It is too great to shunned just because we can’t agree on anything.
Then maybe, just maybe will the world see who Jesus really is. And hopefully we can grant the wish of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, because he loves us so.