“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” (Jn 17:11)
The Lord Jesus’ prayer of separation from the disciples in John 17 (v. 11, 21, 22) is a special prayer for the disciples’ unity. It can be seen that what the Lord Jesus cared about most was that the disciples could not be united after He left. Apostle Paul warns believers to be careful, if they bite each other, he is afraid that they will destroy each other (Gal 5:15).
Conflict is inevitable in personal relationships. Our spirituality is perhaps never so tested as when we are opposed and contradicted. It is easy to love our brethren when we share common interests or opinions. The test occurs when there are misunderstandings and complaints. Yet love, covering a multitude of sins, should unite brethren together in this situation. Love enables Christians to forgive one another and bear with one another. Such attitude removes grumblings and arguments. If both parties remember the love of Christ, who laid down His life for us and loved us to the end (Jn 13:1), we will support our brethren with the same love.
“Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Heb 12:15)
Believers are cautioned to avoid any root of bitterness. Bitterness results from intense resentment. Bitterness may spring up in one’s heart, but if it is allowed to develop, it can have wide-ranging effects. The solution to bitterness and its consequences is forgiveness. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Mat 6:12) One very practical way to do that is to replace bitterness with love, especially by showing love to the one who has wronged us.
The ability to bear others comes from forbearance and forgiveness which need to be cultivated. The key to success in forbearance is to begin with love. Paul said, “Love is patient and kind’ (1 Cor. 13:4). Love is manifested when a mother shows patience and forgiveness to her naughty children. There may be members in the church who are annoying. They may be stubborn or like to show off. We must forbear and forgive them, put up with things we dislike and get along with those who disagree. The act of forgiving one who has wronged us is one of the most responsible and spiritual activities in our lives and must be repeated continually throughout one’s life.
Jesus prayed that we would be united together in the truth of God’s word, and that Jesus Himself is glorified.