No City Divided Will Stand
It has been a decade since my grandfather passed on due to cancer. During the terminal stage of his condition, my family would gather by his side every night to comfort him and to listen to his feeble mutterings. As inaudible as they were, we paid close attention and did all we could to make out what he was trying to communicate. We knew that every word uttered during those moments was what were dearest to his heart and we did not want to miss them.
In the same way, we should pay extra attention to Jesus’ prayers prior to His betrayal and arrest. In view of His impending death and separation from His beloved disciples, the content of those prayers would surely contain matters of paramount importance to Him.
I have always found it baffling that of all weighty issues concerning sin, salvation, His divinity and eternity, Jesus actually dedicated one of His final prayers in John 17 to the unity of His followers:
20 Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,
21 That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.
In the heart of God, unity of believers is not a peripheral issue. It is so weighty and significant to Jesus that He spent His final moments praying about it! If Jesus accorded such priority to unity in His final prayers, unity is clearly not an option for us to choose. It is a mandate resonating from the very heartbeat of God. Jesus’ prayer for His believers on unity teaches us three important lessons.
Firstly, unity is the essence of God. He is God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; a three in one Deity. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit created the universe in unity and have been working in unison since then. God’s desire is that we may be one the same way the Trinity is. God desires to see that same harmony, peace and might among believers displayed in His church.
Not only does Jesus’ prayer underscore the importance of unity, It also tells us of its ubiquity. From Lucifer’s rebellion in the Heavenly city to Paul’s constant exhortation to the early churches to “be in perfect harmony and in full agreement so that there will be no dissensions or factions or division” (1 Corinthians 1:10), disunity has to be weeded out consistently to preserve the unity our Lord endears.
In Matthew 12:25, Jesus clearly spelt out the consequences of disunity: “Any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand.”
Take note of Jesus’ stern and absolute statement, “no city or house divided against itself will last.”. Disunity will always result in desolation and destruction in His church. There is no exception; the Creator of the Universe has pronounced the fallout of disunity. Even God had to cast Satan and his legions down to preserve the unity of the Heavenly city when rebellion arose.
Lastly, while the potential of disunity to destroy is immense, the power of unity is undeniable and therein lies Christ’s reason for believers to preserve it. Concerning the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, God clearly said that because “they are one people and they have all one language…nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6). Let us take heart that the early church in Acts grew and God added to them daily because “all who believed and trusted in Jesus Christ were united and together they had everything in common.” (Acts 2:44)
Let us pray.
“Dear Jesus, thank You for reminding me toady that unity is Your very nature and character. There is great power when Your people are united with each other and with You. Your Kingdom is unstoppable when there is unity and the enemy will try everything that he can to divide and create disunity among us. Help me to steer far from words and deeds that may create strife and division. Use me to stir up and preserve the unity in Your church today because that is what You truly desire from me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”