I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. ... I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
-John 17:15,20-21 NRSV
It is moments before soldiers will come to take Jesus away. He is praying and his disciples are listening. And a main theme of his prayer is that these would stay together after he was gone. Looking back over the past two millennia, I have to wonder if this prayer was answered at all. Division, not unity, seems to have marked the history of his followers.
On this same night Jesus told his followers that outsiders would know that they followed him because these would see the way that they loved each other. Love for each other would protect them from the evil one. It would breed harmony and not dissension. It would create a bond. These followers would be one in heart and spirit if they would only love.
We have fallen so far Lord. We, your church, have chosen to divide instead of love. Forgive us. Make us one again.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.