I closed my last post with Jesus prayer in John 17:20-23 for unity in the church. Key to our understanding is seeing that we were included in Jesus prayer.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;” John 17:20 (NKJV)
Think about this, we can all trace our physical ancestry back to 8 people, Noah, his three sons and their wives or if we want to be more succinct, back to two people in a garden, Adam and Eve. While Ancestry DNA or 23andMe may not be able to make the link, it is somewhere there. In the same way, we can all trace our spiritual ancestry back to the first century. Somewhere in a little Roman province called Palestine (Israel) our spiritual ancestors heard the gospel, were born again and the word spread to others. Eventually it came to us.
This idea of linkage and connection is a key theme in the NT. In fact the NT knows no idea of Christians in isolation. From the Day of Pentecost onward the focus was on community, a reflection of Jesus prayer. Paul said the body grows through relationships – joints are relationships between parts.
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16 (NKJV)
Paul calls us to find our common unity in the Holy Spirit through walking in love for one another. Not the insipid ‘tolerance’ of today but a love that actually seeks what is best for others and calls them to His high standard.
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; Ephesians 4:1-4 (NKJV)
Peter said as His body (there is a unity term, the body of Christ) we are being built into a spiritual house (not houses) and that we are a holy nation (singular).
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
Jesus said that He would build His church (His called out ones), not on a man as some teach, but on the revelation of who Jesus is.
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:16-18 (NKJV)
I believe that before Jesus returns He is going to see His John 17 prayer answered in fullness – a church moving and flowing throughout the earth in submission to the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides and builds us into the spiritual house we are called to become. I do not know how He will do this, I simply believe that He will, that in the midst of deep darkness His light will shine brightly (Is. 60:1-2). I desire to do my part to join my heart with His to see this realized in the earth. After all it is up to Him and here is what He promised.
13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain? 14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:13-14 (NKJV)
This is our calling! So,
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV)