In John 17, Jesus knows his time has come so he prays for his disciples and for those in the future who will come to know him. His prayer is found from verse nine.
In verse 11, Jesus prays that we might be one. And, he repeats that twice in verse 21, twice in verse 22, and once in verse 23; a total of six mentions.
When Jesus says a word six times, in what would be regarded as his last will and testament, it carries power. It must be of the utmost importance otherwise he would not be wasting what remained of his precious little time on trivia. This was the enduring message he wanted to convey to his disciples.
So why do we need to be one? Verse 21 clearly states so that ‘the world may believe’.
Our oneness is therefore testimony to the world. Imagine a global Church united in a single vision and purpose. What a powerful force that would be! What an incredible witness. So of course the natural target for the enemy is our oneness! Hasn’t he done an amazing job.
God commands the blessing where brethren dwell together in unity. Conversely, where there is tribalism, criticism and competition, one must assume that blessing is withheld.
How can we achieve the oneness that Jesus prayed for? Verse 26 provides the answer: ‘that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them’, saying, when you love one another all men shall know you are my disciples.
Love is the precursor to unity and unity naturally flows where love is resident.