My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
In an effort to save a few bucks, we recently cut the cord - goodbye cable, hello digital antenna. Even though this decision helps our budget’s bottom line, it does drastically reduce our viewing options. Hence, why on a recent lazy Saturday afternoon I found myself watching a mindless 90's comedy movie called Multiplicity starring Michael Keaton.
For those who have yet to see this cinematic masterpiece, here's the basic premise: A man named Doug who never has enough time for the things he wants to do is offered the opportunity to have himself duplicated. He jumps at the offer and starts making photocopy versions of himself. The plan works for a while, but then, you guessed it, it spirals out of control.
I can't help but think this film provides incredible insight on how we tend to go about making sure Jesus' prayer for unity gets realized. How can we achieve the unity and peace the world so desperately needs? In our minds, the solution is reasonably straightforward. Just act like Doug.
If people were more like us, the world would be a more excellent place. So, we spend our time and energy attempting to get individuals to think and act like us. We live out the tagline for the movie - "Sometimes to get more out of life, you have to make more of yourself."
When we can't make others like us, we work to diminish others and ultimately dismiss them. As a result, God's vision for our relationships and the unity He desires for the church struggles to take root. Jesus understood how simple, yet at the same time incredibly complicated, our connections with others can be. The oneness of believers was such a part of His heart that it served as the focus of one of His final prayers.
The beauty of the church lies in our diversity and variety. What should make us unique is how we manage to pursue connections with those who are different than us. We're built to receive love as well as created to give it away. Love is a force that breathes value and worth into another.
The exchange of love takes place in our relationships. Relationships are the framework through which love gets expressed and experienced. We love when we give ourselves away for the good of another. To be loved is receiving good for ourselves without trying to earn it.
The way we treat, care and love each other sends a message to the outside world. Our redemptive relationships should cause those around us to take notice. If this is the case, we have to get gut-level honest about our relationships and the job we are doing regarding living together. Intimacy requires awareness, both about ourselves and our connections. We can't share if we aren't aware.
How can you show love and pursue understanding with someone who isn't like you?
Where are you fighting for you unity?
God, open my eyes to what drives my relationships. Help me to see where I am putting my needs and my desires above everything else. I want my connections to be a place where others are encouraged and where I am spurred on to reflect Your love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.