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Jesus’ priestly prayer (John 17) reveals that He considers unity vital to His mission. Here, Jesus prayed that there would be unity among His apostles (vs. 11) and all future believers (vs. 20), a unity like that shared between Jesus and His Father (vs.11& 21). Why is this so important that Jesus would pray for this on the night of His betrayal? How Christians live and act towards their brothers and sisters in Christ matters a great deal to the Church and the world. Such unity among Christians is required for them to live in unity with the Father and Son and gives testimony to the world that the Father sent Jesus, His Son (vs. 21). 

In light of so many Christian denominations and differences beyond the core beliefs (e.g., the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds), it matters to God that we treat one another in a manner that honors and pleases Him. If God looks to us as sons and daughters through Christ, then it is important for Christians to sincerely see other Christians outside of their own traditions as brothers and sisters living in the same house. Remember that Jesus taught us that His Father’s house has many rooms (Jn 14:2) and a divided house or kingdom cannot stand (Mk 3:24-25). Further, we must recognize that sanctification is a gradual process where brothers and sisters grow in the faith and truth at different rates and like any household; members are living at different stages of growth. Therefore, we must be patient with one another and while we must not compromise our faith, it matters to God that Christians address their differences in His love, mercy and grace.

Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate for Institutional Advancement at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla

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