When Jesus describes unity of relationship, it gets a little complicated. Reading John, one can get tied up in knots around who is “in” whom.
And yet the image is quite captivating. The presence of you within me and me within you. This isn’t the language of friends and acquaintances, or handshakes and highfives. This is about being so close together we transcend physical proximity.
It’s kind of like saying “I’m carrying you in my heart” but more serious – You are always with me.
This sort of closeness is about unity.
the glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one
I’m not sure we take seriously the power of such a statement: that glory has been given to us from Jesus who received it from GOD; we are together as one with Jesus because Jesus and GOD are together as one; that our unity may be complete.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about unity, especially given how divided our country is, how divided our people are. How we break up along political parties and along styles of church. We make ourselves be different and we struggle to tolerate difference.
And I have been compelled to think that unity is not uniformity. That we are one without being the same.
And so I invite you to wonder with me about unity, uniformity, and relationship as it relates to simplicity.
- How might we make our relationships easier while being authentic and honest in them?
- How might we find greater unity in our diversity?
- How might diversity bring more simple relationships?
I’m reminded of the African philosophy of Ubuntu, often described as “I am because we are.” Not just a beautiful idea, it is a statement of relationship and respect. An idea of mutuality and understanding.
As we remember that we are not “of the world” and we reject the scripts written for us, I find the complexity of the world: all of its changes and diversity: to be increasingly a kind of challenging beauty. We seem like a tangled web of diverse needs and desires and pursuits. We might think we have nothing in common.
And yet we are. And as a person of Christian faith, I add: And yet we are of GOD. GOD who is in Jesus who is in us, that we might reveal the glory of GOD.
May our work of building honest relationships of support and love, of forging unity through diversity, of making more simple relationships be expressions of love. Of GOD’s graceful glory.
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