April 13 Devotional

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter yesterday, even though we weren’t able to meet together! I will confess it was really weird to sit down and eat an Easter meal with my family without having just spent the morning celebrating with our church family! Today we’re going to take a look at the end of John 17:
“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. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
These are the last words Jesus said to his disciples while they were in the upper room celebrating Passover together. This is one of the most beautiful things Jesus could have ever prayed, because he takes time to pray for us! He intentionally prays for every person who will ever put their faith in Him. So it’s not a stretch at all to say that as Jesus was preparing to go to the cross and bear the punishment for the sins of the world from the Fall until He comes back again, He was thinking about us. He was praying for us. He was intentionally about reminding his disciples then, and his disciples today, that nothing will be able to stand against His kingdom. But notice specifically what He prays for: “That they may all be one.” That’s impossible, right? I have trouble enough being “one” with the people I really like, much less with the people I struggle to like! And the church is often FULL of people we wouldn’t naturally associate with! That means this unity takes work, it takes effort, it takes intentionality. We don’t drift toward unity, we drift toward division. I was listening to a podcast this past week with a musician and producer in Nashville who was sharing why he needed to quit touring. He shared that after being on the road for 2+ weeks and not being with his church family he started questioning his faith, his commitment, and even the truth of what he believed. After he got back from the road he drove up to his small group and the moment he walked in a peace permeated everything. He was reminded of the truths of the gospel made manifest through his brothers and sister in the church. That’s the reason the author of Hebrews reminds us to not neglect meeting together! We need to continue encouraging and edifying each other so that we can be united!
Now, that unity does not mean uniformity! Jesus goes on and grounds the reasoning for this unity in a theological point “just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” This is referring to the Trinity. God is completely unified, yet there are distinctions in the Godhead, with different roles within the Trinity. In the same way, for those in Christ, we are all given gifts of the Spirit that we are to use to the best of our abilities. If we all had the same gifts we would never be able to function in full health! We’d be very strong in one area and weak in the other. It would be like one of those body builders who focuses exclusively on the top half of his body and neglects the bottom half, so his toothpick legs look like they can’t support the monstrosity on top! No, all of us are commanded to use our gifts to the best of our ability, and to continue growing in our gifts for the sake of the body. And the application of this is the unity we show in the midst of diversity is the best evangelistic witness we can show to the world. Jesus even says the world can judge whether or not we are Christians by how unified we are! So I’d encourage you to be thinking and praying about how you can better utilize your unique gifts and talents for the sake of the body when we can finally come back together. 
Today’s song is by Citizens, a fun band that came out of Mars Hill in Seattle. Their most recent project was recorded using just a phone in an empty church, with a piano and guitar, and they’re sending out chord charts for people to arrange them however they want! The first song off the album is all about Jesus, and it’s called ‘Only Jesus Christ’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.
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