This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus commands love. But Jesus prays for unity.
Jesus does not command unity. Whew! Who of us could obey? We cannot produce unity! Not any one of us, from the greatest to the least of men and women. Not even the smallest amount of unity – much less the unity of the Trinity.
Unity comes from the Father. Jesus makes this clear in his teaching on marriage: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” And in His prayer for us, he petitions the Father for unity, which is only His to give: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
But, who of us can love? Apparently, Jesus thinks, all of us! “This is my command: Love each other.” None of us can be prevented from loving at any moment of our lives. It is our choice.
Love is unilateral. I can choose to love, even when hated. Jesus shows us this way of living.
Unity is not unilateral. I can do all in my power to achieve unity with another human being, but I cannot do the part that is in their power. That is up to them. And I cannot do the Father’s part.
So let’s join Jesus in petitioning the Father for the unity that comes only from Him.
And let’s obey Jesus by loving, as best we can, at each moment of our lives.
I lay down any burden or sense of responsibility to produce unity.
I consider one relationship with one person today, and ask – “Holy Spirit, how do I love this person?”
“Now may the Lord guide your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ.”
– The Apostle Paul (2 Thess 3:5)