“I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One—I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” John 17:22-23
Isn’t it curious that we are constantly trying to unite in marriage, in friendship, in families, in neighborhoods, in congregations and denominations, in nations and even world-wide – and we can’t do it. We may form temporary alliances, even in our marriages, but true unity or oneness eludes us. If we are honest we know that it is because we are much more interested in being in control, in being served, in being first, in having more than we need or even want. We really want to be Number One much more that we want to be One. So let’s save an extraordinary amount of time and effort by recognizing that oneness is not humanly possible.
Unity is an aspect of God’s self: God is One, just as God is love – and oneness and love are aspects of one another. Do you see? Love is only possible in relationship and relationship is only possible because of love and both are only possible because of God. God is One and God is Love.
The astounding thing is that God invites us into God’s own Oneness having opened the door for us through Jesus Christ. When we enter into this love-relationship with God, we naturally begin to draw closer to one another. Really, we can’t help it. Oneness is a natural effect of God’s supernatural love, just as love is a natural effect of God’s supernatural unity.
Think of it this way: imagine a triangle. God is at the top and you and I are at the corners of the base. As we move up the sides of the triangle, moving closer to God, we naturally draw closer to one another until we meet at the top in God and become One. Unity, oneness, is impossible without God, but it is impossible to avoid unity within God!
So why are we, the church, so divided around the world? Good question.
We trust and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior: the One who lived and died and rose again to save us from sin and death. But having been saved, we rarely go on to the next step and accept Jesus our Savior also as our Lord and King. When we do this, when we voluntarily come under the authority of God, humbly accepting Christ as our Head, our Oneness with God and one another begins. We come to God as individuals, but we are saved to become members of One Body. Humbling ourselves under God’s rule, reign and authority is essential to our unity – indeed, it is the only way to become one.
Oneness is not about conforming to one another or even to some standard or practice. Oneness is the result of the freedom God provides for us to join Him in faith – Father, Son, Holy Spirit and us – a party of unity and love. God could not command us to love and be one if we were incapable of either or both. But, God sent Jesus to be the Way to the Oneness and Love of God.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
With God, in God, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we are One and our joy really is complete.