“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. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Have you ever been near someone before they transitioned to heaven? When you are, you often discover the importance of listening well because a dying person’s words are coming directly from the depths of his heart. People will share profound insights and things that are most near and dear to them during those final weeks and days. Jesus is saying this prayer on the evening of His arrest. What’s near to Jesus’ heart? He wants us to be in complete unity (verse 23). The Greek word complete is tĕlĕiŏō, which can also be translated perfect. Jesus wants us to live in perfect unity (or oneness) with each other. What does it mean to live in perfect unity? In Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections of Christian Leadership, he describes unity in relationship with one another to be, “…vulnerable brothers and sisters who know and are known, who cared and are cared for, who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved.” He goes on to say, “We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.”
What’s near to Jesus’ heart? He wants us to be in complete unity.
Living in perfect unity starts with us allowing our vulnerable selves to be exposed. For some of us, this can feel threatening because we have shame or fear lingering over us, creating an invisible wall that we stay hidden behind. Can you identify any shame or fear that keeps you hidden? One time when speaking at a women’s retreat, I asked that question. Then, I asked the women (if they felt comfortable) to write their answers on 3” x 5” black notecards. They tacked the notecards to the wall, as if they were nailing it to the cross of Jesus. There were about 400 women in attendance so there was enough anonymity to leave the cards on the wall all weekend. The women loved going around the room between sessions reading what others wrote. It made them feel connected and unified because so many shared similar responses. Maybe you can identify with some of the fear and shame they were experiencing: e.g., twice divorced; fear of rejection; abuse; abortion; lying; self-hatred; cutting; infertility; molested; affair; drinking again; my kids are a mess; pornography; living with my boyfriend; fired from my job. These are not light-hearted struggles, fears or shame; they usually aren’t. They are very real and painful. We spent time praying for one another as God began to lift the veils of shame and fear that were keeping people trapped and feeling alone. Many told me as they began to remove the veil of their shame or fear, they could begin to be their authentic, vulnerable selves. This is how we move towards perfect unity.
Maybe today you want to allow your more vulnerable self to show up with others so you can move toward perfect unity in relationships. You no longer have to hide behind the veil of guilt or shame. Talk to God about it. That’s what He wants you to do. We see it in Isaiah 1:18, “The Lord says, ‘Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow. Though your sins are deep red, they can be white like wool.” You see, Jesus already paid the price for sin. He is saying to you, “Come to me and let’s talk about it so you can receive forgiveness and be set free.” For those of you who carry shame because of something that happened to you, my heart hurts for you. You can also walk in this freedom of letting go of the veil of shame and it turning from red or black to white as snow. Jesus wants to talk with you about it and comfort your pain. His shed blood on the cross was for your wholeness and healing. He loves you and will bring you peace. Healing and being vulnerable in perfect unity, takes time and is a process. If you don’t have a life group or person you can trust or talk to, you may want to seek out a professional Christian therapist to help you on the road to being your vulnerable self.