The world wants to know: Does Christ truly make a difference? Does the community of God reflect the character of God? Does the coming of Christ really make a difference in the way we live? Does the incarnation of Christ produce an ethic lived out in concrete ways? Do we celebrate our unity even in the midst of our different-ness? Are we truly a people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
Jesus prays for us: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)
The world has tried to live by certain standards and it has found itself coming up short. “Been there, done that” is the motto. Show me something different. Show me something authentic and real. Show me what “real life” is supposed to be like. “Real life” according to Jesus is about emptying oneself, accepting the limitations of our humanity, and learning what it means to trust God as we set out on His project of redeeming the world through His Son.
The World is watching. And all the while, Jesus prays for us: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
As a church, we do not exist for ourselves. We exist for God’s mission. We are called to be the foretaste of God’s reign of justice, freedom, and love. We are less about programs and more about life. We are less about ministry and more about being missionaries. We are less about ourselves and more about the one who sends us. Our calling is to be people who exhibit such things in our church’s life as mutual care, reconciliation, loving relationships, and hospitality.
You want to know why? Because the World is watching, and Jesus is praying that we may be unified around his mission of letting the world know the love of God. And that will never be central if we try to unify around our own wishes more often rooted in our pride than our respect for what God really wants.
Our world is hungering to find people who care for each other without concern for one’s own interests. Our world is fragmented, and it is looking for a people who can live in peace and wholeness. Our world is filled with disposable relationships, and it is looking for relationships of permanence. Our world is divided, and it is looking for people who know how to be one. Our world wants to know: Can there be a place where the stranger finds a home?
Jesus’ prayer that his church be brought to unity so that the world would know that it is Christ who has come is a prayer still worth praying today.