“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

Social media has been part of my existence since high school. I first discovered MySpace (remember that?) in High School and Facebook in early 2008 during college. What started as a meager friends list and quotes has shortly turned into a friends list of 1000 people (most I really don’t know well) and a sad realization of what the online space has become over the past 10 years. At least in my experience, these online spaces seem to be fraught with contentiousness and disagreements. Everyone from acquaintances to Christian friends and family saying things online to one another that they would never say in person (at least I hope not!). Was it always this way? I don’t remember it as such. From the outside looking in, Facebook and Twitter may be the most polarized places on the planet.

Despite disagreements throughout history, Jesus has called his church to be unified. Reading the New Testament, it seems that unity in the church was just as much of an issue then as it is today. Jesus facing the end of his life on Earth prays one thing for his followers that are to come. He prays that “all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”Jesus’ prayer illuminates his heart for his people; unity. Unity though is difficult to achieve. Mainly because Jesus is easy to get along with, but sometimes, I’m not! So, how are we going to get there?

Unity is something we have to work towards, it doesn’t just happen organically in most cases! The one who knits our hearts together in love is Christ himself who breaks down perceived barriers to create a holy family (Gal. 3:28). But, as I experience in my own family, family can be full of love and full of disagreement. So, how do we become a family that better reflects the relationship of Jesus and the Father? One of the biggest things that we could all work on? Giving each other the B.O.D.; the benefit of the doubt. If we’re going to strive towards unity, we have to fight against taking offense and being stirred towards anger based upon preferences. We have to discern what is biblical and what is preference and do the hard work of striving towards unity (and it is work!). This isn’t to say that we stay in situations that are abusive, manipulative, or unhealthy, but it is to say that as much as it depends on us, we give others the benefit of the doubt and we hand over anxiety, anger, and frustration to God first before others.

Let’s strive together for unity, allowing God to work deeply within us as we lay ourselves down in humility and value others above ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4). There’s so much work to be done and yet, it is by our unity that Jesus says others will know Him. We strive towards unity, in-person, online, and everywhere we’re present so that we may represent the triune God who is in Himself perfect unity.

Seth Redden
HS Pastor

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