If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
In the 17th chapter of his gospel, John records Jesus’s prayer just before being betrayed by Judas. This was probably the most important prayer He prayed while He was on earth.
When you’re watching television and you hear a tornado watch, you listen with one ear while going on with whatever thoughts you were having. After all, a tornado watch simply means the atmospheric conditions are such that a tornado might form.
When they come back on a bit later and issue a tornado warning, that means an actual tornado has been spotted and reported or else there are radar indications of a tornado. You’re still not particularly concerned. They usually mention a several-county area in the warning, so the odds of your being hit are pretty small.
When they change it to a tornado emergency, you sit up and take note. This means a strong, violent tornado is expected to hit an area of significant population. It’s time to wander over to the window and look out. See if you can actually spot the thing.
When you actually see it three blocks from your home, it’s time to open the proper windows and take cover in the safest area possible. It’s tense muscle time.
When Jesus offered up His prayer in John 17, He was staring at the tornado just down the street. It was time to be serious. He prayed about the things closest to His heart at this time, and in verses 20 and 21, He said, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; aeven as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us . . .
The bold print and underline is mine, to emphasize what was most on His mind with regard to you and me. The first part of the statement makes it clear that He prayed not only for His disciples, but for all of us who later came to believe in Him because of the words of the disciples and apostles. His most ardent prayer was that you and I be in union even as He and the Father are in union.
In Matthew 12:30, He said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” He repeated those exact words in Luke 23. Again I used bold print and underlining to emphasize His desire.
He wants you and me to be in unity. A great part of His ministry was gathering His followers into unity, and if we’re not part of His efforts to gather the flock into unity, then we are working against Him and scattering His people.
This is something our Lord takes seriously. He doesn’t expect you and me to agree on everything. What He does expect is for us to rise above that agreement and prize our unity in Him as more important than the rightness of our beliefs.
I can disagree with you about all the meanings of scriptures I want, but He wants me to place a greater importance on loving you than I do on being right about our differences. If you’re a Pentecostal, for instance, you most likely believe it’s possible to lose your salvation. To me, that’s an absolute impossibility.
I doubt I’ll ever persuade you to my position, and I know you’ll never persuade me to yours. But I can accept that difference and love you anyhow. If I allow our disagreement to keep me from loving you, then I’m working against Jesus and scattering His flock, and He takes that very seriously.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx