After two years of avoidance, I have returned to blogging. My impetus is the result of a CT scan which shows the metastatic breast cancer that I have been battling for 14 years has expanded in my liver and started its deadly assault on my lungs. This wasn’t a surprise, but it’s a long story that I don’t plan to tell now. I am writing again simply to capture the vision that invaded my dreams decades ago and refuses to die. I don’t have that option: I am going to die, (probably sooner rather than later), so I will spend the last days of my life writing about a vision that existed long before me and will live on long after my body decomposes in the earth.
The vision at its foundation is simply John 17, and the Lord’s repeated statement that we may be one as the Father and Son are one. He doesn’t ask God to make us one; He simply states that they may be made one as if it is the assured outcome and the purpose of everything He does ask. The first time I seriously considered those words nearly forty years ago, I believed that Christ’s prayer had been answered in the affirmative. No other option made sense to me, and it still doesn’t. When the Son asked the Father to keep the disciples through His name, to keep them from the evil one, and to sanctify them in truth, did the Father say “no”? Of course not! And being kept and sanctified means that we may be one. So what’s the problem? Obviously, it’s us! Obviously, we have chosen for one reason or another not to enter a spiritual reality that Christ provided as His final blessing on the disciples during His last hours in mortal flesh.
The church was born in the heart of that reality. On the day of Pentecost they were all gathered in one place and in one accord and we know what happened. Through the early days the believers broke bread daily and had all things in common. We know from the New Testament, that it didn’t take long for the newly converted to take their eyes off of Christ and begin to focus on other things like the law, or their leaders, or who wasn’t getting their fair share of food distributions. Tragically, history tells us that the Lord’s plan for His disciples to be one as the Father and the Son are one has often been lost in bickering, battles, and bloodshed among believers.
The experience of universal Christian unity was lost within a relatively short period of time. Segregation by doctrine, denomination, and different cultures became normal in a body of believers called to be one as the Father and the Son are one. Knowledge of universal Christian unity faded from the church. Many if not most Christians believe that John 17 is a promise for life after death. But that just doesn’t make sense. Read the prayer. The purpose of our perfect unity in Christ serves to protect us from the evil one as we are sent into the world. It provides evidence to the world that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves us as He loves His Son. Neither will be necessary in the world to come.
We have lost the precious knowledge of Christ’s plan, provision, and power in unity. But lost knowledge can be rediscovered. In my lifetime, in my small circle of experience, I have seen God bring down walls between Catholic and Protestant, between Methodist, Baptist, and Brethren. And whatever He is doing around me, He is doing throughout the world. The burden I have carried nearly four decades convinces me that the time has come for the knowledge of Christ’s provision for unity among His disciples to be rediscovered and experienced once more.
Just read John 17 carefully. Think about the cross looming just ahead. Think about Christ’s last minutes with His disciples. Think of Him praying for the work they have been given. Think what might happen if all who claim His name actually believed that His repeated statement is spiritual reality.