Now that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is concluding; surely this does not mean that we stop praying and working for Christian unity within our own churches and with other churches? Jesus' prayer for unity among His disciples in John's gospel, chapter 17, remains ever instructive on this matter and that this necessarily should remain a top priority for all Christians. Unity must be evident within individual churches themselves, as a way of enhancing effective ministry and outreach to its own members, but also beyond its own walls to other churches within the local area but indeed around the world.
As Jesus prayed, "I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as You are in me and I in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent me." (John 17:20-21) By this statement, it would seem that the effective witness and proclamation of the gospel depends on the sustained unity of His disciples and followers.
This brings to mind this year's theme: "Has Christ Been Divided?" based on St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians whereby he mentions the various factions and groups who had aligned themselves behind certain personalities in the early church. This question remains timely and relevant in our own times, as we give the impression that Christ has been divided in the great variance, in which His gospel is proclaimed, understood and lived at times. Yet, there can be great enrichment and expansion in how Christ is proclaimed, understood and lived, provided that we are ready to become obedient to His voice, and in the submission to His Way, Truth and Life.
The effort of Christian unity and indeed every aspect of the Christian life is rooted in prayer, so we continue to pray for the unity among Christ's disciples throughout the world beyond simply this week and during the whole year. This is much like our prayers for world peace which surface at the start of the New Year or on Remembrance Day, as they are timely all the time. May our prayers help to soften our hearts and make them truly humble and contrite in nature, so that we might become more open to seeking God's will instead of our own. There remains an ever urgent need for prayers for the whole Body of Christ to be united with each other. Anything else is contrary to the mind and heart of Christ, who prayed but also died to reunite all His scattered children in the world.