Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
John 17:15-23 (NIV)
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus and the Father are in intimate fellowship. Before His death, Jesus prayed that all of His followers, including us, would become part of that intimate fellowship. Our unity and fellowship is made strong through God’s word, and as we are united in Christ we witness to the truth of the Gospel. Our culture tells us to put our own desires first. Jesus tells us to put the needs of others first just as He has put our needs first. Our world says “You are beautiful for who you are”. Jesus says, “You are beautiful because I made you and I redeemed you”. Jesus reveals the depth of God’s love for us and is praying for us. Our Christian fellowship of love, care, forgiveness, reconciliation, comfort and grace is something the world desperately wants and needs, but will never find it outside of knowing Jesus. Let us gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ often so that we can witness to the world what the Kingdom of God is really like.