The Followers of Christ are not only called into oneness with God, but loved into a oneness with God through Christ. All become one not only with each other, but become one with the fullness of the divine.
This idea of oneness with God, it is central to John’s Gospel, but what does it mean? Truth be told, this passage, at least in English, can be a little hard to follow, its a little hard to get exactly what Jesus is trying to say. As Pastor Victor pointed out before I started, this is Jesus’ prayer for the disciples, but not only for the disciples present in the room that day, Jesus is praying for all the faithful that will eventually come along, which in the 2000 years since Jesus is reported to have spoken these words, is an awful lot of people.
So what does it mean to be one with God? Why is this idea so central? Why does John emphasis this aspect of Jesus’ ministry so much?
As Pastor Victor so importantly pointed out, it certainly has something to do with being in Unity with the Body of Christ, and how in that Unity all the followers of Christ are brought into relationship with one another, along with being brought into a relationship with God.
Maybe its useful to think of the myriad of relationships each one of us may find ourselves in, what does a good, strong healthy relationship entail? Well it certainly involves Love, it also involves trust, it involves of level of selflessness, in being willing to sometimes put the other person first, while remaining able to still be oneself.
This unity it is not a wiping out of identity, it does not mean that all have to think the same or talk the same or be the same, rather, I believe the unity Christ is talking about here is unity in relationship, in striving for compassion and patience and forgiveness, kindness and Love.
So when Jesus is talking about this, Jesus is certainly talking about the relationship his followers have with him and God, and Jesus is certainly also talking about the relationships that existed in any beloved community that seeks to be the Church of Christ, the community of Christ, but it is also about relationship with everyone else out there beyond the walls of a church sanctuary.
Because God’s love is limitless, because God’s love can break down the barriers that get built up in the world, the barriers that end up identifying some people as "Other".
I recently heard someone summarize it in this way, The Church has three primary relationships, the relationship with God, the vertical, and the relationship within the church, which is horizontal, which is two dimensions, but of course we all live in a three dimensional world, so the third dimension, maybe think of it as the depth, the width, that is the relationship with those who need love, and lets face it, just about everybody in this world needs love, there is an awful lot of brokenness out there.
So that is why I think mission and outreach are so important, not that we have to go out and try to get everyone to join this congregation, or the Presbyterian church, or, dare I say it, that we need to turn everyone into Christians, but what we can do is share love and build relationships with as many people as we can.
Because in the end, isn’t that what Jesus was all about, his ministry was about healing, and forgiving sins, about feeding people, and listening to people, and he did a lot of barrier breaking, interacting with the Samaritans, who, although have since gotten a pretty good name, in the time of Jesus, were seen as the "Other", the default bad guys, the ones to be blamed, as folks to stay away from, alien, and yet Jesus lifts them up over and over again.
So today, as we gather together, in this particular congregation, working on the horizontal relationships with one another and the vertical relationship with God, let is feed each of us to go out into the world and share the love we receive here so bountifully, with the rest of God’s creation, sharing healing, and food, and compassion and love and kindness, when followers of Christ strive to truly live into the oneness of God, the Unity of God, the body of Christ, it is then, in giving ourselves up, that we truly enter into the oneness Christ hopes and prays for all of us