Let Us Be Known By Our Love
My prayer is not for them alone. 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. 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 17:20-23. NIV)
I find it surprising that one of the last prayers that Jesus prayed on earth was that we, his followers, would be one. It’s also surprising that soon after Jesus prayed this prayer, he was betrayed by one of his own. It’s a tragic picture. With a kiss Judas betrays the man that stooped down to wash his feet, disrupting the very unity Jesus prayed for.
Too often, we, as believers, have pointed the finger at Judas, all the while overlooking the giant plank that lies in the eye of the body of Christ. We too have failed at living into the prayer that Jesus prayed. We have abandoned one other. We’ve forgotten to fight for unity, to endure in long-suffering, to lay down our personal agendas and preferences for something greater.
Our Church gatherings should be a foretaste of what’s to come – a colorful Kingdom filled with people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. Sadly, Sunday mornings have become the most segregated hour of the week. Though segregation was abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you’d never know it by walking into the average American church on a Sunday. How did we get here? Even worse, how do we continue to stay here while witnessing the rising racial tension in our culture? From accusations of police brutality to church shootings, it seems we keep ignoring the issues. Shouldn’t we be leading the way? Shouldn’t we be the ones demonstrating what true unity looks like? We’ve grown lukewarm. We stay within the comforts of our own people, our our styles, our own sounds, our own preferences. We’ve made idols of ourselves. We think God is just like us, failing to see the God in our neighboring cultures and communities.
In John 13:35, Jesus says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” As the Church we’ve been known for being many things. David Kinnaman released a study in 2007 that found what most people outside the Church think of Christians. Just to name a few: hypocritical, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political. What if we truly were a people marked by love? What if our churches were the most colorful, vibrant, lively, and loving communities on the planet? What if we actively stood for racial reconciliation in our society and didn’t wait for the government to fix things? What if we did our part to answer the prayer that Jesus prayed?
Recently some friends and I wrote a song together based on John 13:35, titled Let Us Be Known By Our Love. Our prayer was that we truly would be a Church known by love. I pray that one day we may be able to sing the song as a truly unified Church. I invite you to pray with me as you listen to this song.