If you knew your life was coming to an end and you were praying to God, what would you pray for? I know that different people will pray differently depending on their life and circumstance. It may be that you pray to God to prolong your life. It may be that you ask for mercy and forgiveness. What would you pray for? Jesus knew his time had come. He shared the Passover meal with his disciples and then shared with them some important words. Following this message, John records details of the prayer of Jesus that no other gospel writer records. In John 17 we see this prayer of our Savior as he knows his “hour had come.”
In this prayer, Jesus prays for unity to be a reality among those who follow him. The basis for this unity is the oneness of God and Christ. Jesus prayed that God would “keep them [Christ’s followers] in your name, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). The unity for which Jesus prayed is founded on the unity that the Godhead enjoys.
Just prior to this prayer, Jesus challenged his disciples with a new commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). It seems rather clear that the foundation of Christian unity is love.
If we are trying to bring others to Jesus, then it must be obvious to others that we are his. Our effectiveness is dependent on our level of unity. Unity is not the only mark of discipleship, but it’s a primary mark. David points out, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1). We ought always to strive to have the mind of Christ - humble, sacrificial, selfless. Resting at the foundation of Christian unity is the selfless sacrifice. When we allow Christ to permeate every aspect of our lives, love and unity will result.