Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Inauguration Day of the Church of South IndiaJesus’ High Priestly Prayer for All Believers (Jn 17:20-26)
“. . . 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 world may believe that you have sent.me” (Jn 17:21-22)
Today is the 74th anniversary of the formation of the Church of South India by bringing together different churches of Episcopal, Congregational, Methodists, Presbyterian and other traditions, which had been established in India by foreign missionary endeavours. Let us thank God for all those who were involved in making this ecumenical vision come true. Let us also thank God for the further unity in the formation of the ‘Communion of Churches in India (CCI)’ with CSI, CNI and the Mar Thoma Church.
When we study the Bible, we see the work of God is to form a faith community, fellowship, in which the will of God is done and through which one finds both union with God and communion with others for the common good of others and the world. This community is modelled on the trinitarian community of God, which Jesus highlights in His high priestly prayer “My prayer is not for them alone. 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23).
In this prayer, Jesus reveals that His purpose in coming to earth was to glorify the Father by giving eternal life to those who believe in Him. Although Jesus is God and was with the Father before the world began (Jn 17:5), He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man so people would know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” whom He sent (Jn 17:3). Now, the hour had come when Jesus’ work on earth would be finished (Jn 17:1), and Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him as He prepared to finish the work that would “give eternal life” to those who believe in Him (Jn 17:2).
When the ‘body of Christ-the Church’ is wounded and divided by conflicts of many kinds, including a divided self, we hurt God’s mission and our ministry to establish the kingdom values on the earth. When there are issues that need correcting, the church, as a whole, needs to have those discussions individually and collectively. We need to listen with absolute humility and devotion to the Gospel message. If we fail to live by the truth of God’s Words, we are doing the work of Christ a disservice. There also needs to be a desire at the end of the day to work together to do our shared mission.
“The Gospel we preach shapes the kind of churches we create. The kind of church we have shapes the Gospel we preach” (Scot McKnight).
Dr. Zac Varghese
Sinai Mar Thoma Church, London, the UK.