In John 17, we see Jesus pray for his disciples. In that prayer, Jesus prayed, not only for the few who are listening to him in that moment, but for “those who believe in me through their word” (John 17:20).
Jesus prayed for us, for the church throughout the generations and around the globe. He prayed for us to be unified, for us to be “one” as the Son and the Father are one. Jesus asked for the church to find this unity in the midst of the chaos of the brokenness all around us, and I think this should be our prayer for this cultural moment.
We must fight for unity. The world around us is looking for hope, joy and peace, and they need a unified church to point them to Jesus.
How do we fight for this unity? How do we see the prayer of Jesus answered in our day? We listen to Paul in Philippians 2:1-11.
Unity found in humility
Paul called the church in Philippi to unity, to be “of the same mind, having the same love” (Philippians 2:2). He then showed us how we find this unity in the verses that follow.
We find unity only when we are committed to walking in humility.
To walk in humility is to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Unity is found when our power, interests and personal freedom are not the center of our actions and concern. Unity is found when we place others and their interests and their good above our own.
Unity is found in humility.
Humility found in following Jesus
Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
Paul called the church to have this same mind, to follow the example of Jesus and to empty ourselves for the sake of others.
Paul said unity is found in following the humble example of Jesus.
Unity found in confessing, “Jesus is Lord”
Unity is found around the confession of Jesus as Lord. Jesus humbled himself and was exalted. In turn, we must humble ourselves and exalt him.
Unity is found when we bow our knee to Jesus and confess him as Lord. Unity is found when we all submit to Jesus and live out his example of humility.
This is the time to unify. This is a time when we should put the good of others and their interests above our own. This is a time for the church to be marked by humility and by sacrifice for the sake of those in our church and our community.
So much of the debate around re-opening churches, masks in public and whatever else is riling up social media today is fueled by our own personal interests and power. Let’s listen to Paul and follow the example of Jesus.
We have an opportunity to point the world to the hope of the gospel through our humility and concern for those around us. This is a moment we can show we live for an eternal kingdom and not just our own freedom.
I pray we are up to the task. I pray we can live with humility, sacrifice and love. I pray we live as if Jesus, and not our own power, is Lord of our lives. I pray, like Jesus, that God would unify us.
Zac Harrel is the network missionary for the Heart of Texas Baptist Network. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.