This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden
"I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one. I am in them and you in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17:22-23 NLT
Peace Players International is a nonprofit organization using basketball to educate and unite children and their communities from areas of historic racial, cultural and religious divides. The organization was recently given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s for its work in Northern Ireland where violent conflict has existed for the past thirty years between Protestants and Catholics. The group persevered through public scrutiny, debate and threats, and now, four years later, Peace Players Northern Ireland has taught basketball and leadership skills to over 12,000 children from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. Most importantly, they are helping bridge a social divide that has existed in that country for years.
I have always loved John 17 because it is here that we find a record of Jesus praying for us: believers who would follow Him throughout the centuries. There are three main things He prays. He prays for protection from the evil one, holiness and unity. As I read this prayer and look at those three requests on our behalf, I feel compelled to pray for those things myself.
Besides unity, the other areas Jesus prays for are more individually-focused, but unity requires that we all work together, act together and love one another…which can be a tall order! Christians have disagreed for centuries, even to the point of shedding blood. When I look at this prayer, I can only imagine how the Lord must cringe whenever the Church does not come together, but allows disagreement and strife to divide.
Jesus desired that we should be united, that we should be one. Why? So that we could be a powerful witness to those who do not believe. It is when we are united, when we love each other, when we are willing to work together that we best represent the power of God’s love. There are many ways we can show our unity. We can teach tolerance, pray for others, avoid gossip, or volunteer through our church. While not a Christian organization, Peace Players International is setting a great example when it comes to building bridges between those with differences! They start with those who are young and help remold, reshape and redirect generational strife so that community can be built. Perhaps we all ought to follow their lead and strive to bridge the gaps that exist between Christians, so that we too might be known as “peace players.”
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1. Listed above are a few ways we can show unity as Christians. What are some other ways that you can show love and unity in your day-to-day life?
2. What do you think it is about unity that is so important as an example to others?
Matthew 22:37-40; John 16:25-28; John 17:20-26
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