This Week’s Text: John 17:20-23
Last week we began our series on the spirituality of college football by looking at the passion, pageantry, and tradition of college football. This week, we are going to talk about what it means to be a team. Have you ever noticed that when people talk about college football, or any sport, people use terms like “we”?
We won the game. This was our best game of the year. We will get ’em next year.
There’s this quality that binds us together. It unifies us, and it makes us willing to high-five strangers and talk to people on the bus or at a restaurant if they’re wearing our team’s colors.
Today’s passage of Scripture calls on us to be unified. The setting is at the Last Supper. Jesus is having his final earthly meal with his disciples before his crucifixion the next day. We cut in today in the middle of Jesus’ prayer, and he says, “I ask not only on behalf of these” [meaning the disciples] “but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word” [that’s us! that’s the church!] “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.”
Now let’s stop and think about that for a moment. What kind of connection does Jesus have to God? It is steadfast and unwavering. Now, does that mean we will always agree on everything and get along perfectly with everyone all the time? No. There will be times when we disagree. We are called to a unity of purpose and devotion, not a unity of opinion. Our purpose is to worship God and to help bring about the Kingdom of God on earth by sharing God’s love with those around us and caring for our world.
I intentionally stopped short in referencing the verses earlier. Jesus calls us to be one, and then he goes on and gives the reason, “so that the world may believe that you [God] have sent me [Jesus],” and later, “so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
You see, our unity, our ability to function as a team–a team made up of unique members all working toward the same purpose–that is an act of evangelism. When we can be one as God is calling us to be, it tells the world that Jesus is who he said was and that God loves the world as much as God loved Jesus.
My prayer is that we would continue to grow in unity as a congregation. I pray that we would continue to learn to love and accept each other. I pray that we would create a team environment here and then take that team out into the world so that the people in our lives and the people around our church would know that Jesus is who he said he was and did what he said he did, through the love and grace of God.