In Jn. 17:20-21 Jesus prayed that all of His followers would be “one,” that is united. But the unity for which Jesus prayed was not some loose amalgamation. It was not a high sounding agreement to disagree agreeably. He prayed, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
The unity for which Jesus prayed is one of deep quality. It is a complete unity, a unity of substance that emulates the unity between God the Father and God the Son. How ridiculous to imagine that the Heavenly Father and His Son had an agreement to disagree agreeably! No, they were and are completely united in belief and purpose, and that is the kind of unity that Jesus prayed would exist between all of His followers.
It is easy to see, however, that such is not the common state of affairs today. The concept of denominationalism has divided the followers of Christ into distinctive groups, or denominations. Each denomination has its own distinct name and system of doctrinal beliefs which identify it as being different from every other denomination. Such readily demonstrates that the unity, on the scale for which Jesus prayed, does not exist. He prayed that “all” of His followers would be completely united. The denominational world is not even close to that!
What can be done? First, we must admit to the disunity. Don’t call the disunity of denominationalism unity. Second, we must come to a truthful basis for the establishment of the kind of unity for which Jesus prayed. That basis is God’s word, the Bible. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (Jn. 8:31). When Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation about their disunity, he admonished them to “speak the same thing” and to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).
Third, when we see where we’ve been believing and practicing teachings that are not in accord with what the Bible says, we must admit it, forsake the erroneous teachings and embrace the true teachings of God’s word. In doing so, we will naturally be united with God and Christ, and as such we will be united with every other believer that is truly united with God and Christ.
Finally, we must take our better understanding of the truth, share it with others and strive to lead them into the unity prayed for by our Savior. Let’s just turn to the Bible for our guidance as to what is God’s will. Let’s humbly submit to its teachings, so demonstrating to the world our love for Christ and exemplifying our unity with Him and with all true followers of Him. Only in this way can we ever achieve true Christian unity...
Gary L. Hutchens