“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me, through their word; that they all be one, even as You Father are in Me and I’m in You, that they may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20-21
The Point of The Prayer of Jesus is for believers in Him, then and now, to “all be one.” There is a difference between closeness and oneness. The dilemma of many people, posing as believers, is that they are so close, but yet so far away. There is little hope found in the proverbial statement, “Close but no cigar.”
The union of a cat and a dog can take place by tying their tails together. This form of closeness occurs by the union of bodies, without any oneness of heart. Jesus did not pray for union among disagreeing disciples, but for oneness. He prayed, “even as You Father are in Me, and I’m in You.”
“Single-hearted” was the logo of a Single Adult ministry Dana and I conducted in Houston, Texas in the early 1980’s. Our mission was to develop servants in the local church marked by “sincerity and unity of purpose.” Many of them accepted the challenge, to raise their purpose in life above the fulfillment of their own personal preferences, and found great joy in being one with The Father and with other believers.
The local church still remains the best lab for developing the kind of oneness that is produced by Spirit-filled believers. Paul described the vital sign of oneness, as fullness of The Spirit and marked by mutual submission between believers.
“And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
Lone Ranger Christianity may succeed in removing oneself from the company of the cantankerous. There is great relief in escaping the irritation that comes from the constant chafing of being in close quarters with calloused Christians.
Still, Jesus prayed for His disciples to have a oneness in Him, and in The Father. This kind of oneness was meant to create compassion in the heart of each believer, and improve the capacity of The Body of believers to coordinate and cooperate with one another.
“It is easy to be an angel as long as no one ruffles your feathers.” Author Unknown
The U.S. Army once called upon potential recruits to sign up and be “The Army of One.” Jesus prayed then, and intercedes now for His disciples to become “The Army of Oneness.” Big difference.
John’s Gospel reveals that Jesus prayed for His disciples and for those who believed in their word, “that they also may be in Us.” Words mean things. Believing words about Jesus, and being in Jesus are two different things.
Talking about marriage and being married are not the same thing. One of the earliest pieces of marriage advice I recall is the statement, “You will have to be married to realize how selfish you really are.” Though I didn’t believe it then, truer words were never spoken. But I digress.
Marriage remains the best field for producing the fruit of oneness Jesus prayed for His disciple to have in Him and in The Father. It is described as a “one-flesh relationship.” This does not refer merely to occasional sexual union. It describes the perpetual and mutual submission produced by the fullness of The Spirit. “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
Believing in Jesus leads to being in The Father. Anything less than this kind of personal intimacy is not oneness. Personal preference, and claiming rights are out of bounds for those who are “in Us.”
When an individual athlete is in The Zone, it describes that rare moment when personal talent and diligent training come together in the arena of competition, and are revealed for all to see. As beautiful as this is, it is nothing compared to the sight of a team of individuals merging into a coordinated body, and cooperating together to achieve a common goal.
As coaches often say, “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” There is also no “I” in PRAY. When Jesus prayed for His disciples, and when He prays for them now, He invites them to join His team, not to be a star of their own.
The Oneness Jesus describes between Himself and His Father is offered to His disciples. Jesus found it in praying to The Father. His disciples should not expect to find it any other way.
In prayer, Jesus met with The Father, early in the day, throughout the day, and at times all night long, to conform His will to The Father’s will. He prayed long enough to be in Him, not just to be with Him. Believers in Jesus will pray until they are in The Father, single-hearted, marked by sincerity and the unity of His purpose. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!