Jesus prayed for Whitton Avenue Bible Church. He also prayed for Camelback Bible Church, Redemption Arcadia, Mountain View Christian Church, and others in our neighborhood. In the Bible, recorded by John (who heard it in person), copied by scribes for generations, we have the account of Jesus praying for us. Let me share that prayer and what Jesus prayed for us:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20–23)
Our church is in the category of “those who will believe in [Jesus] through [the disciples’] word.” And Jesus’ prayer for us is that we would be one. I believe this applies not only to the unity within the local church but also the unity of Jesus’ followers more broadly. For all that can be dicey about such inter-church relations due our history of differing convictions, there is much glory to be experienced when believers unite around Jesus as Savior and Lord. Indeed, Jesus’ prayer for our unity has an explicit purpose: “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
This weekend we have an opportunity to deepen that unity and experience what Jesus prayed we would. Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we will gather at our parking lot at 8:30 AM with brothers and sisters from 7 other local churches to serve our schools in the Creighton district and paint over graffiti in our neighborhood. Chick-fil-A is providing breakfast and Terra Java is providing coffee. Once we shuffle our members into teams we will launch out at 9 AM to do everything from painting to window washing to constructing planters for class gardens. At many of the schools parents and students will be present to help, giving us increased opportunity to talk about our Savior. Our prayer is that, through our unity as believers who may not know each other personally but trust in the same Christ for salvation, the world would know that Jesus was sent by the Father to save sinners.
After we serve our neighbors on Saturday we will gather Sunday evening at 6:30 at Camelback Bible to worship our God and celebrate the gospel that gives us unity. We are asking all who come to bring canned good to help replenish the food shelf at Camelback High School. Julianne Forte will lead the time of worship, I will preach, and we will all take the Lord’s supper together. Every worship and prayer service we have had in the past has been an exciting, anointed time of encountering God with a new group of believers, and I trust this will be equally meaningful.
I am personally grateful for the relationships I have with the pastors of these churches. They are committed to the gospel, committed to their people, and committed to the neighborhood. When we meet our times are filled with laughter, sharing of burdens, and encouragement. I pray that you will taste some of that as we join together as churches this weekend and, most importantly, that the Father will be glorified as we join around our trust in his Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.