That they all may be one - This prayer was literally answered to the first believers, who were all of one heart and of one soul: Acts 4:32. And why is it that believers are not in the same spirit now? Because they neither attend to the example nor to the truth of Christ.
That the world may believe - are have already seen that the word, κοσμος, world, is used in several parts of this last discourse of our Lord to signify the Jewish people only.
Christ will have all his members to be one in spirit - one in rights and privileges, and one in the blessedness of the future world.
Thus Christ sought to teach the disciples the truth that in God's kingdom there are no territorial lines, no caste, no aristocracy; that they must go to all nations, bearing to them the message of a Saviour's love. But not until later did they realize in all its fullness that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” Acts 17:26, 27. AA 20.1
In these first disciples was presented marked diversity. They were to be the world's teachers, and they represented widely varied types of character. In order successfully to carry forward the work to which they had been called, these men, differing in natural characteristics and in habits of life, needed to come into unity of feeling, thought, and action. This unity it was Christ's object to secure. To this end He sought to bring them into unity with Himself. The burden of His labor for them is expressed in His prayer to His Father, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us;” “that the world may know that Thou has sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:21, 23. His constant prayer for them was that they might be sanctified through the truth; and He prayed with assurance, knowing that an Almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached to all nations for a witness; He knew that truth armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the battle with evil, and that the bloodstained banner would one day wave triumphantly over His followers. AA 20.2
As Christ's earthly ministry drew to a close, and He realized that He must soon leave His disciples to carry on the work without His personal supervision, He sought to encourage them and to prepare them for the future. He did not deceive them with false hopes. As an open book He read what was to be. He knew He was about to be separated from them, to leave them as sheep among wolves. He knew that they would suffer persecution, that they would be cast out of the synagogues, and would be thrown into prison. He knew that for witnessing to Him as the Messiah, some of them would suffer death. And something of this He told them. In speaking of their future, He was plain and definite, that in their coming trial they might remember His words and be strengthened to believe in Him as the Redeemer. AA 21.1Read in context »
In our business meetings, it is important that precious time should not be consumed in debating points that are of small consequence. The habit of petty criticism should not be indulged, for it perplexes and confuses minds, and shrouds in mystery the things that are most plain and simple. If there is that love among brethren which will lead them to esteem others better than themselves, there will be a giving up of their own ways and wishes to others. It is our duty to study, daily and hourly, how we may answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one, as He and the Father are one. Precious lessons may be learned by keeping our Saviour's prayer before the mind, and by acting our part to fulfill His desire. GW 447.1
In our business connection with the work of God, and in handling sacred things, we cannot be too careful to guard against a spirit of irreverence; never, for an instant, should the word of God be used deceitfully, to carry a point which we are anxious to see succeed. Honor, integrity, and truth must be preserved at any cost to self. Our every thought, word, and action should be subject to the will of Christ. Levity is not appropriate in meetings where the solemn work and word of God are under consideration. The prayer has been offered that Christ shall preside in the assembly, and impart His wisdom, His grace and righteousness. Is it consistent to take a course that will be grievous to His Spirit and contrary to His work? GW 447.2
Let us bear in mind that Jesus is in our midst. Then an elevating, controlling influence from the Spirit of God will pervade the assembly. There will be manifested that wisdom which is “from above,” which is “first pure, then peaceable, ...full of mercy and good fruits,” [James 3:17.] which cannot err. In all the plans and decisions there will be that charity that “seeketh not her own;” that is “not easily provoked;” that “thinketh no evil;” that “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” that “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” [1 Corinthians 13:5-7.] GW 448.1Read in context »
It was for this unity that Jesus prayed just before His trial, standing but a step from the cross. “That they all may be one;” He said, “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). 1SM 85.1
God calls upon those who are half awake to arouse, and engage in earnest labor, praying to Him for strength for service. Workers are needed. It is not necessary to follow rules of exact precision. Receive the Holy Spirit, and your efforts will be successful. Christ's presence is that which gives power. Let all dissension and strife cease. Let love and unity prevail. Let all move under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If God's people will give themselves wholly to Him, He will restore to them the power they have lost by division. May God help us all to realize that disunion is weakness and that union is strength.—Letter 32, 1903. 1SM 85.2Read in context »
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26. SD 286.1
We seldom find two persons exactly alike. Among human beings as well as among the things of the natural world, there is diversity. Unity in diversity among God's children—the manifestation of love and forbearance in spite of difference of disposition—this is the testimony that God sent His Son into the world to save sinners.10Manuscript 99, 1902. SD 286.2Read in context »
We individually have a case pending in the court of heaven. Character is being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and it should be the earnest desire of all to walk humbly and carefully, lest, neglecting to let their light shine forth to the world, they fail of the grace of God and lose everything that is valuable. All dissension, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness; kindness, love, and compassion for one another should be cherished, that the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father may be answered. The harmony and unity of the church are the credentials that they present to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Genuine conversion will ever lead to genuine love for Jesus and for all those for whom He died. 5T 279.1
Everyone who does what he can for God, who is true and earnest to do good to those around him, will receive the blessing of God upon his efforts. A man may render effective service for God although he is not the head or the heart of the body of Christ. The service represented in the word of God by that of the hand or the foot, though lowly, is nevertheless important. It is not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is done, the motive underlying the action, that determines its worth. There is work to be done for our neighbors and for those with whom we associate. We have no liberty to cease our patient, prayerful labors for souls as long as any are out of the ark of safety. There is no release in this war. We are soldiers of Christ, and are under obligation to watch lest the enemy gain the advantage and secure to his service souls that we might win to Christ. 5T 279.2
The day of trust and responsibility is ours; we have a work to do for God. The church in ----- has been gradually growing cold and irreligious. There is much to be done for its individual members. Great light has shone upon their pathway. For this they will be held accountable. Said Christ: “Ye are the light of the world;” “ye are the salt of the earth.” They need a deeper work of grace in their hearts. There must be a reformation before God can bless them. There are plenty of formal professors. A selfish grasping for gain eclipses the heavenly inheritance. If the kingdom of heaven is made first, noble integrity will shine forth in the life and character. This is what Brother A needs if he would exert an influence for good. He loves to handle money, and to see it accumulate by turning it one way and another. His mind and affections are absorbed in worldly enterprises. He is drunken with the cares of this life; that is, he is so swallowed up in his business that he cannot think rationally and intelligently of the things of God; his vision is obscured by love of money. The truth should reach down deep into his heart and develop fruit in his private and public life. 5T 280.1Read in context »