14. Like Christ: In His Oneness With The Father.
"Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are. That they all may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one. I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, even as Thou hast loved me."óJohn 17:11, 21, 22.
What an unspeakable treasure we have in this high-priestly prayer! There the heart of Jesus is laid open to our view, and we see what His love desires for us. There the heavens are opened to us, and we learn what He as our Intercessor is continually asking and obtaining for us from the Father.
In that prayer the mutual union of believers has a larger place than anything else. In His prayer for all who in future shall believe, this is the chief petition, vers. 20Ė26. Three times He repeats this prayer for their unity.
The Lord tells us plainly why He desires it so strongly. This unity is the only convincing proof to the world that the Father had sent Him. With all its blindness, the world knows that selfishness is the curse of sin. It helps but little that Godís children tell that they are born again, and that they are happy, that they can do wonders in Jesusí name, or prove that what the Scriptures teach is the truth. When the world sees a church from which selfishness is banished, then it will acknowledge the divine mission of Christ, because He has wrought such a wonder, a community of men who truly and heartily love one another.
The Lord speaks of this unity three times as the reflection of His own oneness with the Father. He knew that this was the perfection of the Godhead: the Father and Son, as persons separate, and yet perfectly one in the living fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And He cannot imagine anything higher than this, that His believing people should with Him and in Him be one with each other, EVEN AS He and the Father are one.
The intercession of the Lord Jesus avails much; it is all-prevailing. What He asks He receives of His Father. But lo! the blessing which descends finds no entrance in hearts where there is no open door, no place prepared, to receive it. How many believers there are who do not even desire to be one even as the Father and the Son are one! They are so accustomed to a life of selfishness and imperfect love, that they do not even long for such perfect love: they put off that union until they meet in heaven. And yet the Lord thought of a life on earth when He twice said, "That the world may know."
That "they may be one, EVEN AS We are one." The Church must be awakened to understand and to value this prayer aright. This union is one of life and love at once. Some explain it as having reference to the hidden life-union which binds all believers even under external divisions. But this is not what the Lord means; He speaks of something that the world can see, something that resembles the union between God the Father and God the Son. The hidden unity of life must be manifest in the visible unity and fellowship of love. Only when it becomes impossible for believers, in the different smaller circles in which they are associated, not to live in the full oneness of love with the children of God around them; only when they learn that a life in love to each other, such as Christís to us, and the Fatherís to Him, is simple duty, and begin to cry to God for His Holy Spirit to work it in them, then only will there be a hope of change in this respect. The fire will spread from circle to circle and from church to church, until all who truly do the will of God will consecrate themselves to abide in love, even as God is love.
And what are we to do now, while we wait for and wish to hasten that day? Let every one who takes up earnestly the word of the Master, "EVEN AS I, so also ye," let him begin with his own circle. And in that circle with himself first. However weak or sickly, however perverse or trying the members of Christís body may be with whom he is surrounded, let him live with them in close fellowship and love. Whether they are willing for it or not, whether they accept or reject, let him love them with a Christ-like love. Yes, to love them as Christ does must be the purpose of his life. This love will find an echo in some hearts at least, and awaken in them the desire, too, to seek after the life of love and perfect oneness.
But what discoveries such effort will bring of the impotence of the believer, who has been hitherto satisfied with the ordinary Christian life, at all to reach this standard! He will soon find that nothing will avail but a personal, undivided consecration. To have a love like Christís, I must truly have a life like Christís: I must live with His life. The lesson must be learnt anew, that Christ in the fullest sense of the word will be the life of those who dare to trust Him for it. Those who cannot trust with a full trust, cannot love with a full love.
Believer, listen once more to the simple way to such a life. First of all acknowledge your calling to live and love just like Christ. Confess your inability to fulfil this calling, even in the very least. Listen to the word, that Christ is waiting to fit you to fulfil this calling, if you will give yourself unreservedly to Him. Make the surrender in this, that conscious of being utterly unable to do anything in your own strength, you offer yourself to your Lord to work in you both to will and to do. And count then most confidently upon Him, who in the power of His unceasing intercession can save completely, to work in you what He has asked of His Father for you. Yes, count on Him who has said to the Father, "Thou in me and I in them, that they may be one, EVEN AS we are one," that He will manifest His life in you with heavenly power. As you live with His life, you will love with His love.
Beloved fellow-Christians, the oneness of Christ with the Father is our model: even as they, so must we be one. Let us love one another, serve one another, bear with one another, help one another, live for one another. For this our love is too small: but we will earnestly pray that Christ give us His love wherewith to love. With Godís love shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, we shall be so one that the world will know that it is indeed the truth, that the Father sent Christ into the world, and that Christ has given in us the very life and love of heaven.
Holy Father, we know now with what petitions He, who ever liveth to make intercession, continually approaches Thee. It is for the perfect unity of His disciples. Father, we too would cry to Thee for this blessing. Alas, how divided is Thy Church! It is not the division of language or country that we deplore, not even the difference of doctrine or that so much grieves us. But, Lord! the want of that unity of spirit and love whereby Thy Church should convince the world that she is from heaven.
O Lord! we desire to confess before Thee with deep shame the coldness, and selfishness, and distrust, and bitterness that is still at times to be seen among Thy children. We confess before Thee our own want of that fervent and perfect love to which Thou hast called us. O forgive, and have mercy upon us.
Lord God! visit Thy people. It is through the one Spirit that we can know and show our unity in the one Lord. Let Thy Holy Spirit work powerfully in Thy believing people to make them one. Let it be felt in every circle where Godís children meet each other, how indispensable a close union in the love of Jesus is. And let my heart, too, be delivered from self, to realize, in the fellowship with Thy children, how we are one, EVEN AS Thou, Father, and Thy Son art one. Amen.