Study from God’s Word… From the so-called “Upper Room Discourse,” John records Jesus’ sharing with His anxious/confused inner 11 Disciples in John 15-16 and then His prayers for them (and us) in John, Chapters 17 … Passage for Reflection: John 17: 23 … NIV May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them as you have loved Me.
My Journal for Today: Normally, when I’m doing my own morning devotional journal entries, I wait to the end of my summary of what the Lord has revealed to me that day to share LaGard Smith’s daily and sometimes sobering question. But today I’m going to do that right up front, as today he wrote, ”If the world based its judgment about Christ solely upon how I love fellow believers, would they move nearer to Christ or farther away?”
In today’s highlight text we have Jesus openly praying that His followers thereafter, which, most certainly, includes all who claim to be “Christian” today, would be unified in their witness of love for Jesus, which He said would manifest itself most openly in the love Christians would have for one another. So, I’m back to the challenge question from Dr. Smith for today; and I honestly think I do okay on that one – not great … but okay. I’ll let you search yourself, if you’re reading here, to see if others would move closer to wanting to know Jesus by the way you treat other Christians.
But – and this is another big “BUT” – it concerns me that Christianity may be driving people away from Christ because of how we are perceived by the world as bickering with (or maybe it would be more accurate to say “fighting with”) each other as Christians. First, there is the big split which occurred in the 16th century with Protestantism splitting away from Roman Catholic and/or Easter Orthodox doctrinal beliefs. And now, how does the world view all the division they see in modern day denominationalism? And there is the confusion the world has to see with non-Christian sects like Mormonism or the Watchtower, who are in open competition with so-called “Orthodox Christianity,” as we all witness to convince non-believers that each of us has the only way to go to heaven.
And finally the world sees so-called conservative, evangelical Christians railing, as admittedly I do sometimes, about new-age teachers like Oprah Winfrey, who claim that all faith systems have commonality and you can come to God, or go to heaven, by following any of those belief systems. Won’t the world see it as disunity when someone like me would claim that, as Jesus Himself said in John 14: 16, Christ is the only way to heaven?
All this divisiveness has got to be seen as disunity and lacking in God’s love by the world; and at times I must admit that it’s hard to stand in the gap for orthodox truth and be unified in the bond of Christianity. But one thing is clear that I can do; and that is to love others as Jesus loved me. And when I think of how patient He was in wooing and drawing me to Himself, I need to be similarly loving to others – especially to other Christians … but extending that love as well to non-Christians.
I’m dong better and better with this; but I still have a long way to go to become the Christian Jesus prayed for in John 17; … so, I move on … trying to let God transform me into the disciple my Lord prayed for in that Upper Room the night He was betrayed and then taken to be crucified.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to be the loving disciple I need to be for others to see You in me. Amen