Together As One

 

Abide-16

 

TITLE:
Together As One

TEXT: John 17:20-26

TONE: Encouragement

TARGET: Believers

TASK: To exhort believers to unite as one for the cause of Christ.

TEACH: I have never seen the majestic redwood forest, but I have heard about its beauty. These trees are some of the tallest living things on the planet, stretching up 350 feet high. Their great height and enormous strength are awe-inspiring. But have you ever wondered why these towering trees, which live for over 2,000 years, rarely fall despite their shallow root systems?

 

The secret lies in their roots (show picture) Instead of going deep, redwood roots spread out wide and intertwine with roots of other redwoods. By entwining like this, they create a network of roots that hold each tree up. They grow in close proximity, and their interlocked roots make them incredibly stable, helping them withstand strong winds and floods. Their unity in the underground network is the very reason they stand strong and tall together.

 

This picture of the redwood forest powerfully illustrates the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-26. Just like the redwoods, we as believers are meant to spread our roots out wide, connecting and intertwining with one another. When we stand together, supporting each other through the trials and storms of life, we exhibit the unity that Jesus desired for us. Our collective strength comes from our unity. United, we display the power and glory of God. When we are “Together as One,” our intertwined lives provide stability and support that no one of us could achieve alone.

 

TRUTH: As we gather this morning to immerse ourselves in the final moments of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, it is essential to recognize the profound weight and depth of this pivotal concluding message. These last words, delivered in the intimate setting of the Upper Room, provide an enduring portrait of both divine love and eternal truth. Jesus, fully aware of the imminent trials He would face, took this moment not to dwell on His own suffering, but to impart lasting wisdom and assurance to His disciples. Here, within these sacred verses, we find encapsulated the essence of His teachings, the goal of His mission, and necessity of abiding in Him. Jesus’ farewell is not merely a parting note but a cornerstone of Christian faith -our oneness.

 

I.   Our Unity has Trinitarian Implications.

a.        Explanation: In Jesus’ prayer, the statement, “Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they too might be in us,” captures the profound mystery and intimacy of the believer’s union with the triune God. Theologically, this reveals the inner life of the Trinity, an eternal communion of love, will and purpose between the Father and the Son. When Jesus prays for believers to be in “us,” He is inviting them into this divine fellowship, underscoring the unity and indwelling presence that arises from the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

The unity between Father and Son speaks to the essential unity of the Godhead, a perichoretic relationship where each Person of the Trinity indwells to be “in us” indicates a participation in this Trinitarian life through mystical union with Christ, achieved through faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20; 1Cor.6:17). 

 

This union is not a mere metaphysical abstraction but a transformative reality grounding the ecclesiological and ethical dimensions of the Church. As believers are drawn into the life of God, they reflect the unity and sacrificial love manifest in the Trinity (Jn. 13:34-35). Thus, Jesus’ prayer is both an affirmation of divine ontology and an apostolic mandate pointing towards the eschatological fulfillment where believers, united with Christ, partake in the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), inhabiting the fullness of God’s eternal purpose and glory.

 

Through our unity, we offer compelling evidence of God’s reconciling work in Christ, showcasing the transformative power of the Gospel. When we embody the love, forgiveness and harmony that characterize God’s own triune community, we not only glorify Him by reflecting His nature but also become living testimony to a fragmented world that longs for genuine connection and peace.

 

b.        Illustration: Imagine a beautifully orchestrated symphony, where each musician is diligently playing their unique instrument, guided by a common score and unified under the direction of a skillful conductor. The harmonious blend of diverse melodied and rhythms creates a singular, magnificent piece of music that transcends the individual contributions of any single performer. In this analogy, the church is like the symphony where each believer, with their distinct gifts and abilities, comes together to serve a greater purpose under the divine direction of God.

 

c.        Application: Read books on the Trinity, study the Trinity, and model the unity of the Trinity in all your relationships.

 

II.                         Our Unity has Missional Implications.

a.        Explanation: When Jesus prays in John 17:21, “…so that the world may believe that you sent me,” He connects the unity of believers to His mission of revealing the Father. This statement underscores the theological interplay between ecclesiology, soteriology, and missiology.

 

·      Ecclesiology: This prayer reveals Jesus’ desire for the church to model the unity that exits within the Trinity The oneness of the Church is meant to reflect he oneness of the Father and the Son. Such a unity, characterized by love, mutual indwelling, and shared purpose.

 

The unity among believers reflects the unity within the Trinity. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one, the Church is called to mirror divine relational harmony.

 

·      Soteriology: Jesus prays with the recognition that the fruit of unity among His followers has salvific implications. When believers embody the Trinitarian love and unity, it manifests the truth of the Gospel. This authentic witness serves as a tangible evidence to the world of the divine origin of Jesus mission. It is to be a foretaste of Heaven.

 

A unified Church demonstrates the power of the Gospel to reconcile diverse groups into one body. This tangible unity provides a strong witness to the world, validating the message of reconciliation and peace in Christ. Conversely, division and disunity can harm the Church’s witness, making the Gospel appear ineffective or insincere.

 

·      Missiology: This prayer links the Church’s unity with His mission to the world. It suggest that the very credibility of Christ’s mission hinges on the unity and loved displayed by His followers. Therefore, unity is a missional imperative.

 

Unity fosters a spirit of mutual support and shared purpose, enhancing the overall impact of the Church’s mission activities.

 

b.        Illustration: The church is like a lighthouse perched on a rocky shore, its beacon piercing through the dense fog and treacherous waters. This lighthouse stands as a guiding light for ships navigating the dark and stormy seas. Now, think about the lighthouse keeps -each with a distinct and critical rile to ensure the light doesn’t go out. Some keepers maintain the structure, others clean the lens, while some fuel the lamp, ensuring the light shines at its brightest. Their collective efforts are essential; if any part is neglected, the light could dim or go out, leading to potential disaster for those depending on it. The church is akin to this lighthouse, a beacon of hope and truth in a world often shrouded in confusion, despair, and moral ambiguity. The members of the church are the Keepers.

 

c.        Illustration: Pray every day to keep everything in the right perspective to be a faithful witness.

III.                      Our Unity has Communal Implications.

a.        Explanation: Disunity within a congregation can stem from a variety of sources, often leading to significant detrimental effects on the congregation’s health and individual spiritual lives. Often the issues is not doctrinal orthodoxy, at least not in Baptist life, but interpersonal conflicts. People have unresolved grievances, jealously, and unforgiveness can breed bitterness and disrupt the bond of love and trust among congregants.

 

On an even more personal level, disunity significantly affects one’s communion with God and others. Isolation and disconnectedness pull back rather than engage, leading to diminished participation in communal spiritual activities. This detachment not only weaken personal faith but also undermined the supportive role of fellowship, leaving individuals spiritually vulnerable. Spiritual pride and self-righteous attitudes can drive wedges between believers, fostering an environment of judgment rather than grace. In turn, these attitudes impede one’s relational growth with God, as humility and mutual respect are essential for genuine spiritual communion. Moreover, gossip and slander are particularly corrosive, as they tarnish reputations and sow seeds of distrust, further disqualifying the unity that reflects God’s nature to the outside world.

 

Addressing these determinants of disunity requites a conscious effort towards forgiveness, open communication, and prioritizing the collective mission over individual preferences. By confronting these issues head-on with a commitment to reconciliation and understanding, a congregation can begin to heal and restore the unity that is pivotal for both communal health and personal spiritual development.

 

b.        Illustration: Consider the intricate dance of honeybees within a hive. Each bee has a specific role to fulfill -some gather nectar, others protect the hive, and some nurture the young. The hive thrives on the synchronized efforts of thousands of individual bees working in harmony, directed by the single purpose of sustaining and growing their colony. Should disharmony disrupt this delicate system, the hive’s productivity falters, and its very survival is threatened. The hive represents the church, where each member’s unique talents and contributions are vital to the body’s overall health and mission. Unity in the church, much like the harmony of thriving hive, relies on each member understanding and performing their God-given roles, while working together for a common purpose.

 

c.        Application: Reconcile quickly with those whom you have disunity.

 

 

 

IV.                     Our Unity has Eschatological Implications

a.        Explanation: Jesus has one more request, He wants his followers to see the preexistent glory that the Father has given to Him. This echoes His earlier words to the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them (14:1-4).[1]

 

When Jesus prays, “Father, I desire…” indicates Jesus’ intimate relationship with the Father and highlights His pastoral intercession for His followers. His desire for believer is that they live in eternal communion with God.  Jesus continued, “that they may be where I am…” can be understood on multiple levels. Eschatologically, Jesus is speaking of the believer’s ultimate destiny to be with Him in heaven. He desires that we share in communion with Him.

 

This prayer looks forward to the consummation of God’s redemptive plan. Believer’s destiny is to dwell eternally in the presence of God, experiencing the fullness of His glory and love. “Where I am…” indicates Heaven, the place of God’s supreme presence. This reflects the future reality where believers will dwell in the direct, unmediated presence of Jesus -a fulfillment seen in Revelation 21:3, where God’s dwelling is with humanity.

 

“To see my glory…” looks forward to the eschatological revelation of Christ’s majesty. At the Second Coming, Christ will be universally recognized as Lord and His glory will be revealed to all (Phil.2:10-11). Believers will see Him as He is (1Jn. 3:2), an encounter that will transform and glorify them. The glory revealed includes the expansive and inclusive nature of Christ’s kingdom, redeeming people from every nation, tribe, and language -a vision highlighted in Revelation 7:9-10, showcasing the full extent of His salvific work and divine glory.

 

Application: Embrace the beautiful reality that one day we will all be together in glory.

 

 

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[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 499. 

 

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