“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21, NIV2)
In March, 1935, Charles de Gaulle and Gaston Palewsky realized that the Nazi movement in Germany would become a real threat to France. They proposed a bill to the Assemblée Nationale to create a specialized corps based on an armored division as soon as possible to prepare for an eventual confrontation with Germany. The President of the Council, Léon Blum turned it down.
On May 10, 1940, France was officially attacked by the Nazis, and 46 days later they were forced to surrender. Their enemy had won! But Charles de Gaulle was far from defeated. From the BBC station in London, he encouraged the French people to resist the Nazis and to never give up.
Immediately the government of Vichy in occupied France ordered Charles to return to France. When he persisted in calling the French people to arms, the government of Vichy revoked his promotion to the rank of General (June 22). On July 4, Charles was sentenced to 4 years in prison, as well as a fine of 100 francs for refusing to obey an order, and on August 2, 1940, he was sentenced to death, with dishonourable discharge from the army and confiscation of his property. Contrary to this declaration by the government of Vichy, Charles de Gaulle was awarded the title of “Leader of the free French” by the British government on June 28th.
It’s clear that the French at that time were far from united. In fact, the division in their ranks was one of the major reasons they were so easily invaded by the Nazi army on June 25th, 1940.
And now we, as followers of Jesus the Christ, face a similar crisis. John 17:20-21 is preached, but most of us shrug off its content.
I am often troubled as to why the world doesn’t believe. According to Jesus, one of the main reasons is that we are not united, and where unity does not reign, love is also an unknown concept!
Shocking news! According to John 17:20-21, if we are not one, we haven’t even experienced being one with God!
If we, individually, think that we are right and that we know better than other believers, then just like on May 10, 1940, we are heading for catastrophe! If we are eager to talk behind anyone’s back in church, we are missing the opportunity to testify to the world! How could truth be amongst discord, criticism and indifference?
Our message isn’t about doctrinal differences between denominations! Our message isn’t that we are the only true church! Our message is a simple one: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV2)
That’s the message that was broadcasted all over the world after Jesus rose from the dead in the first century. That was the message of the original church! It’s a message of love, a message based on a hunger for unity, as God longs to be united with us.
Unity can only occur when we set aside any self-interest and start demonstrating pure, genuine love, a love from above, demonstrated by the crucified One. That kind of unadulterated love can only start to grow by experiencing God intimately.
May we begin to pray like we have never done before that we will start searching for this love to take hold of our hearts, that we will let God be at the forefront of everything we do. May we stop stressing our differences, and instead, realize that it is not about us. It is about God, God who desires unity and pure love. We can only truly be as one with our fellow believers when we are one with God, in whom we solely trust.
Unity, after all, is proof that love lives in us!
(To access the entire “Jesus’ Deepest Desires” devotional series, please click here.)