Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 17, 2020
I [Jesus] am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:20-21, NLT
Jesus’ last prayer for His disciples—and for followers today—was for unity. Why? Because united believers are a transforming force for God and His kingdom to bring all people to belief in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. The power obsessed and money motivated kingdoms of this world will all one day bow down to the greatest Kingdom of God’s love. Unity in Christ is spoken through the language of love. When Jesus is lifted up in our life we are attractive and God draws all people to Himself. Jesus still prays for us today to be one with Him and with one another.
I am learning that unity in the Lord elevates our conversations around empathy, education and engagement:
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him” (Luke 10:33-34).
Jesus illustrated how to love our neighbors with the story of a person despised because of his race, reaching out in compassion to one different than himself. The Samaritan, though loathed by some for his minority status, cared for a person most likely different from himself. In Jesus’ words, he loved his neighbor who was the victim of injustice by binding up his wounds, transporting the afflicted one to safe and comfortable accommodations for ongoing care, and gave generously to assure his total recovery. He loved his neighbor with time and money. Empathy builds unity!
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).
Teachable moments are a mainstay of Jesus followers. John Posey, an African American friend with Christian Business Men’s Connection taught me recently about the need for unity around Jesus, not political agendas. Jesus resisted becoming an earthly king when his immature disciples implored Him to leverage His popularity for power—for them to benefit. Instead, Jesus clearly and compellingly taught, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Unity is not found in an outside earthly authority, but from an inside transformation of heart in Christ’s love!
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me [Jesus], for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19).
Believers in communion with Christ and in community with Christ followers is a recipe for unity. I like how my friend and Leadership Coach Dr. Randy Ross describes our desire for engagement: We seek affinity because we long for affirmation. When we find affirmation from the Father by faith, then it connects us through compassion with humanity and binds us together in a community of love. Love is the only path to unity. Love supersedes all barriers and holds forth the hope of transforming society by transforming the hearts of individuals and drawing us together in the power of community. Engagement with the eternal love of Jesus will set you free!
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Forgiving God, set us free from the painful memories of the past, that wound our shared Christian life. Lead us to reconciliation so that, through the Holy Spirit
we may overcome hatred with love, anger with gentleness, and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus. Amen.
How can I be united in Christ in love with someone different than me?
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