Knowing the end was near, Jesus prayed one final time for his followers. Striking, isn’t it? With death breathing down his neck, Jesus prayed for our unity, so that we would fulfill his purpose. He prayed that we would love each other as we go forward to bring the world to him. He prayed for his disciples and for all those who would come to faith in Jesus Christ and become his followers. That means us. Is the answer to Jesus’ prayer of unity just so that we will see harmony among the brethren, or is there a deeper purpose? Of all the lessons we can draw from these verses, don’t miss the most important: Unity matters to God. When Christians stand together in unity, they bear living proof of the truth of the gospel. A unified church will convince people there is a God in heaven. Unity creates belief.
How can the world come to believe the gospel if those who already believe it are battling among themselves? When Christians splinter over frivolous and nonessential issues, observers have reason to doubt the validity of the gospel. Is it fair to say that one of the obstacles that keep people from being drawn into the Church today is the way we treat one another?
One theologian has stated, “The proclamation of the gospel apart from the unity of the church is a theological absurdity.” Unity is the evidence to the world that our faith is real. When unity is present, we fulfill Jesus’ prayer. If unity isn’t experienced, how must Jesus feel?