“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.” —John 17:20-21
John Lennon wrote and performed an award-winning song, “Imagine,” in which he envisioned a world where there would be no countries, no religion, nothing to kill or die for. A line in the chorus says, “I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.” That is a very noble, but unrealistic expectation; however, it is a God-given dream. The world living as one was God’s intention when He created humanity, but it is far from the reality of our world today.
To go back to the beginning, when God created Adam, He created an individual. When He created Eve, He created something quite different—He created community! That is far more complex than creating an individual. There are now two opinions, two agendas and two personalities. When the fall took place, not only did two individuals fall, but the embryonic society fell and became fragmented and divided.
In the New Testament, the answer to the fallen individual is Christ, but the answer to fallen society is the church. Paul’s letter to the Romans is about reconciling the alienated individual to God through the work of Jesus Christ, and his letter to the Ephesians is about reconciling fallen society to each other also through Jesus Christ. God makes “one new man” of the divided Jew from Gentile, and a new society which the New Testament calls “the church.” The church is by nature alienated humanity reconciled to God, and consequently to each other, making possible a oneness with humanity that already exists in the Holy Spirit for those in Christ.
Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-7). Then there comes a big “but” in this passage that flips the teaching over to its application in our lives. “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” This speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to each of us for the furtherance of God’s work in this world.
If we are serious about the Gospel impacting our cities and communities, what we will discover is that the gifts we are given, working in unison, operate effectively. Within that context, many are led to Christ, and this is the adventure every Christian is called to; in all our diversity, one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father, working toward the world living in harmony as one in Christ.