In the final days of Jesus’ life, he offered a prayer. It is recorded in John 17, and it offers a critical insight into what Jesus deemed important. He knew he was in his final hours, and he knew he would shortly be removed from his closest followers. It’s in these moments that Scripture tells us “he looked toward heaven and prayed…” (John 17:1). First he prayed for himself: “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). He followed that with a prayer for his closest followers, the disciples who were in ear shot at that very moment. He then, though, did something fascinating. He prayed “for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). In other words, he prayed for us, those who believe in him through the message of his earliest followers. Hear carefully what he asked: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21). His prayer was for the unity, the oneness, of his followers. Jesus was not naive to the challenges his followers would face and how our unity would be challenged time and time again. But this did not prevent him from asking for it, and for giving us the implicit exhortation that those who follow Christ are to be called together into a unified community. Jesus did not envision a collection of strangers who happen to believe the same doctrines. Jesus envisioned a unified family when he said, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). The authentic follower of Christ is one who treasures God’s family, seeks to know and be known in that family, and works toward the unity of that family. This takes energy and effort as all relationships do. There is little to no gain for the person who claims to follow Christ, sits anonymously in a church service periodically, and then retreats to his or her “real” friends. The authentic follower of Christ knows there is power and importance in unity and invests the relational time and energy to be connected and unified with fellow followers of Christ.
Spiritual Fitness Check
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Signs You're Living It Out
Can identify and name a close circle of friends who are collectively seeking and serving Christ together
Is committed to a local church and is relationally engaged in and through that church
Consistently moves past ethnic barriers, socio-economic barriers, and personal affinity preferences to maintain, promote, and engage unity in the body of Christ
Enjoys and engages unity with fellow Christ-followers in the church at large despite peripheral doctrinal differences
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This bible study gives a holistic look through Scripture at the Relationally Engaged outcome. Engage thought provoking questions for individual reflection and then discuss them in your Life Group or Spiritual Running Partner relationships.
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Consider going on a Road Trip, a Retreat, or some kind of Serving Trip with your Life Group or Spiritual Running Partners. Spending extended time together as a group can really accelerate your relational connection with other individuals and with the group as a whole. Plan something for a couple of hours... Read More