John 17:20 is a prayer for all future believers: “I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message”; in other words, the message I have shared with my disciples, who are now sharing with others who become disciples, who now share it with you! My prayer is that all of them may be one, or have unity.
I wonder if current divisions of the church are the result of Christians’ personal failures to confront (Matt 5:23, 24; Matt 18:15–19; Gal 6:1–3), repent, forgive, reconcile, and restore. We all are self-righteous. John 17:21 reads, “That they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” So many groundless and bitter divisions exist between believers; no wonder people are turned off by Christians!
God’s glory in verse 22 rests on these types of Christians rather than on believers who are full of humility and service (Phil. 2). Jesus wants those whom the Father gave to Him to be with Jesus. How many believers really want to be with Jesus? Like me, many believers are in love with the gifts God gives. We are greedy for more, and we wouldn’t even know what to say to God if we would see Him. It is our nature to get more pleasure from God’s gifts than from Him.
Brian Cederquist is associate pastor of Good News Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.