Not sure who photo credit goes to, but thanks to whoever took this photo.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.” John 17:20,21
Lord, what does that really look like? What does it look like to truly be one? Because believing in You brings me into this oneness. It’s one thing to say we must be one, but it’s a whole other thing to be one. And You ask it, so it’s only something that the Father can do. So it’s only a place You can take us. And I use “place” for lack of a better word right now. See, I know those words, Lord. I can transmit those words. But what does it mean? Has it been transmitted to me in such a way that I really understand what You mean, because if I don’t know the meaning, neither can I transmit the meaning.
I need to look back at Your prayer for us, for me. And as I look back, I see that it all starts with Your glory and the glory of the Father. And You are the glory of the Father. But if it all starts there with Your glory; if that’s the heart of things, then what’s at the heart of me? Am I all about Your glory? So I have to ask myself how in the world can I glorify You? How could I ever be capable of that?
And then You bring me to the answer. I’m not. I’m absolutely incapable of glorifying You…on my own. But You, Jesus, have the power from and of God to make us, me, a glory to You. And You do this by giving eternal life.
How can that make me glorifying to You? How can the fact of You giving me eternal life make me a glory to You? Well, it’s because it’s not just a fact. What is it? What is eternal life? Eternal life isn’t about going to heaven. It’s not about a pie in the sky and escape from this world. This is eternal life- that I might know You, Jesus as God. But what does it mean to know You?
Does it mean to understand the reality of who You are and who You have always been? You want me to see the glory that has always been Yours since before You even created the world. So what if I took my eyes off of everything I know and just got to know You? How do I do that?
I don’t know how but You make Yourself, God, apparent to us. You somehow, miraculously, make Yourself “visible” to me. And somehow it’s tied in with keeping Your word. But we’re only able to keep Your word because You gave it to us first. We received it and we believed it. But it was never by our own power. You are the One who makes it manifest.
You pray for what is Yours. What makes something Yours? How does one get to be Yours because, being Yours, is being God’s and being God’s is being Yours and to just be in You is to bring glory to You. Is that amazing? What did I do? Nothing. I’m just inside You. Maybe it was never about what I’m doing but it’s always about what You are doing in me.
And then You pray that as You leave this world to be fully united with the Father, He would keep us in all that He is. That He would keep us through His power. That in keeping us, we would be one, as You and God are one. One. One how? One body? One will? One mind? One what?
You prayed these things for me because I’m not good at this. It doesn’t come naturally. You were the One who first saw the danger and You guarded me before I ever saw the need. And You continually guard me but as I come to know You, Eternal Life, You continually guard me. How are You glorified in this? Is it because I come to learn in You how to guard myself by Your power? Do I come to see things as You see them? Do I come to recognize the danger and respond Your way?
Because somehow You share the heart of God, Your heart, in Your words and actions, and somehow this fulfills my joy. How does something go from reading and head knowledge to actually filling me with joy?
You gave us the word, Your word. How important is that? Well, somewhere along the line, having Your word causes the world to hate us. Somewhere along the line Your word causes us to not be like the world. Somewhere along the line, Your word causes us to not even be of the world any more. Somewhere along the line, Your word identifies us with and in You.
And though we are no longer of the world, the goal isn’t to rapture us up out of it. Your goal is to guard us, keep us from the evil one. So, though I am not of the world, I was created to live in this world, even in this world occuppied by the evil one. What? Why? It’s not all about going to heaven? Wasn’t I created to be with You? Or was I created to glorify You? And was I created to be one in You? And what if to be one in You in a fallen world, to shine Your glory in a fallen world, to stand and show Your victory against the flow of the evil one, is the goal? What if shining Your glory forth is what it’s all about?
I’m not of this world just like You are not, Jesus. But if I’m in a perfect holy place, I don’t need to be set apart. In a perfect holy place, everything is holy. You can’t be sanctified in a perfect holy place. In a perfect holy place everything is perfect already. But in a world, where the evil one is temporarily reigning, now that’s where I am sanctified. That’s where I am set apart from the evil one and his ways. That is where the glory of God needs to shine. That is where the Truth must reign. That is where the word is needed desperately. God, You are already glorified in heaven. But on earth, You must be glorified. And You glorify Yourself on earth as You sanctify us and set us apart in You.
Now, as You were sent into the world, that’s how You send us into the world. How were You sent into the world? By the power and grace of God, You were sent “not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” My glorious God came in all His power, yet in absolute humility, not to receive, but to minister, and to minister to the extent of self-sacrifice. You gave Your life as a ransom, a payment to free us. And this is how You send me. Is that my heart? Am I desiring to minister more than I am looking to be ministered to? Is that my heart’s desire, to minister to others. Would I give my life a ransom for others? What would I give up? Or would I?
And here I have this Savior, this God, who though He was God, yet He sanctified Himself so we might be sanctified. What in the world does that mean? Why would a holy God need to sanctify Himself? Is this really so easy to understand? What does “hagiazo,” “sanctified,” really mean here?
Hagiazo, “entering into a state of holiness” represented “an act of dedication to God’s absolute standard of holiness.” It was a word strongly related to religious practice and ritual. For the Jew in Your day, Jesus, it would describe “those who keep Torah and who separate themselves from pagan practices.” So how did You sanctify Yourself? Because that is how I am to be sanctified, set apart. What if it had to do with being a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”? Am I separated from the world just as You were? Am I set apart for God, and only for God, as You were? Am I a living example of Your perfect unity and obedience like You? Your death was a sacrifice unlike all sacrifices. You weren’t just an offering. You were the first offering that ever knew what was happening, that ever willingly of their own accord, said, “Take my life, Lord, it is Yours, not mine.” You are the first sacrifice ever that died to self in the process. So You were even set apart from every other sacrifice. Am I set apart in that way? Am I so separated that I have died to self? Because this is where Your truth wants to bring me. Holiness only comes by dying.
These things being prayed for the disciples are Your prayers for me and every believer ever, anywhere. And how do we get there? By the power of Your word, even as it is shared through a believer. Because that’s just it. Your word is that powerful. It was the power that transformed the first believer. And it’s the power that transforms every believer. So Your word that has worked in us, works through us. Why? It is the glory of God and it is God glorifying Himself through us. And how are You glorified? By making us one, one with You, one with each other, just as You and the Father are One. In unity with You the world will believe and in unity with You, You are glorified.
In You alone is perfection and You alone are the One who perfects us, who makes us like You. And as You make us like You, it brings glory to You. And as You make us like You, in You, the world sees You. And as all this is being accomplished in You, Your measureless love is manifested before the world.
To be with You. That has always been my dream. But to know that You prayed that for me because You wanted that for me first, what can I say? And that because of You, I know the Father? And that You continually make Yourself known and impart the same love that the Father had for You, to me? And that love is You? And You are in me and working in me?
Now, I may seem to be taking a really big jump here. But the thought was actually already in my mind at the start of the verse. Because I’m really trying to understand the whole truth of oneness. And it takes me back to the beginning, back to Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And I really need to understand this. I really need to get this, to grasp this in it’s reality and how to make this true in my life. And I can’t do it without You, Lord. Because without You, it’s like trying to read a foreign language.
So, when this man “forsakes” his father and his mother, is this like dying to self and entering a new life? Can this be applied to my walk, even though I’m not a man? Can the father and mother here be forsaking what I’m “used to” knowing and dying to it to start a new life with You?
And that part about being one flesh, that’s from the Hebrew word “echad.” And that’s more than interesting because Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD…” So that’s what made You a stumbling block to the Jews, because God is one. But You are that One. In Hebrew thinking it doesn’t just imply oneness as in an “individual, single entity. The word actually means a ‘unit’ or ‘unified’, a combined entity. We think of ‘one tree’ as a single entity but, in the Ancient Hebrew mind it is a unit of many parts; roots, trunk, branches, leaves.”(Jeff A. Benner) So here is this whole idea you’ve been praying for, Jesus, in me, in all believers, this unity of Yourself, the Father, and the Spirit and our unity within that unity, a unit of many parts where You are what brings us all together. Initiated by and in the Father. Created by and in the Father. Sustained by and in the Father. To glorify the Father, not me.
Like Jesus did. Die to self. Turn my back on my rights and my feelings for the love of others. Leave my ways. Walk into newness of life. Cling and adhere to Your new ways that have always been but were just foreign to me. And when I die to self, leave my self behind, and adhere to You, I shall be one with You and all those who think and do as You.
And it’s not just about me and You, Lord. It’s about me and my neighbor, and about me and my mom and dad, and it’s about me and my husband, and me and my kids, and about You in it all. So, even though You are working in me, I’m still not the focus. The focus is always You. And the focus is not even on others. But the focus is on You. And the focus is on You reaching out to us. The focus for me is on You and how You can reach out of me back to You and to them.
So maybe if I really learned this, really appreciated what You were really praying here for each of us, maybe my life would look different then it does right now. Did you know that learning hurts? Well, it hurts when it has to do with sin. Because sin always hurts. And sometimes sin doesn’t look like what we think it ought. Sometimes it looks so much more subtle that we don’t recognize it. Sometimes idols don’t look like idols.
Jimmy Needham sings a song called “Clear the Stage.” And some of the lyrics relate so well to today’s thoughts. “You can sing all you want to and still get it wrong;” Ever think you were singing the right lyrics only to find out you had misheard some of the words? It happens in our Christian walk. Only it’s not just a mistake. Sin is worse that a mistake. When I become a hindrance to another because of my “faulty”, no, that need’s to be crossed out, sinful attitude, because I want my will over the Lord’s, it doesn’t matter if I call it my will, if it’s not, it’s sin. It doesn’t matter what I call it if it’s not Your way. What You call it matters.
And the lyrics don’t stop there: “We must not worship something that’s not even worth it. Clear the stage, make some space for the one who deserves it. Anything I put before my God is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol. Anything that I give all my love is an idol”
So though I seem to have gone from one extreme to another, it all relates to me. Because if I am not wholly letting You be first, be preeminent, be my everything, than I have an idol. If it’s not all about You, I’m in terrible sin. There is no little sin. SIN IS TERRIBLE. It’s terrible because it’s against You, it’s not of You, it’s foreign to You. And how can I fulfil my purpose in You, to glorify You, when I submit to sin?
Lord, there are things that were good and pure that have become sin in my heart and in my mind. I am so sorry. I’m sorry beyond measure, Lord. And I am so thankful beyond measure that still You love me beyond measure. Even when I allow something to become an idol, You are there to show me that idol and give me the opportunity in Your power to take it captive and demolish it.
Lord, my worst enemy isn’t on the outside. It’s not even satan. ( I don’t even want to capitalize his name, because I love to capitalize all of Your references.) My biggest enemy is my mind. And You knew that, always, and Paul knew it. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” How, Lord? Because I’ve allowed some foreign strongholds. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.” Lord, I’m taking these thoughts captive now. Show me how to obey You instead. I need it straight from You. Blow these wrong thoughts to obliteration. Lord, I need Your holy blitzkrieg, Your holy shock and awe. Teach me to know You so well, make Yourself so known to me, that I know how to submit and obey. And keep my eyes on You alone. Let me leave other’s responses to You. Let me be so focussed in You that Your every desire determines my response to others no matter their response. And may I be filled with the love and grace that You have shed upon me to overflowing so that that is what flows from me to others.