Did you know that the Bible records a time when Jesus prayed for us? It's true. John 17:20b–21 tells us:
"I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one. Father, just as you 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."
Jesus' prayer was that all his followers would experience the kind of meaningful relationships with one another that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit experience together—that qualities like mutual encouragement, support, love, deference, and honor would characterize our relationships with one another just as they do the Trinity.
That was Jesus' prayer and that is his dream. How's that for amazing grace?
As important as it is for each follower of Christ to give and experience this unique kind of relational life, the benefits go beyond ourselves. They influence a watching world. Notice Jesus' concluding words in verse 21: "so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Do you feel the weight of the statement? The credibility of Jesus' life and message in the eyes of the unbelievers depends on the way we, as his followers, relate to one another. It's as if Jesus is saying that unbelievers are just waiting to believe, but the question is, Will they see us relating in a magnetic, irresistible way that reflects the love of our Savior? That's a huge question.
Consider these earlier words from Jesus in John 13:34–35:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Do you see how high the stakes are? We can't settle for anything less than Jesus' dream for community—authentic, life-changing community. The credibility of the gospel is at stake.
In The Mark of the Christian, Francis Schaeffer put it this way: "Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful—Christian community is the final apologetic.