What would it mean for a community to strive towards living out John 17?
We heard the Holy Spirit asking us this question shortly after the Wittenberg 2017 initiative concluded. Certainly we were influenced by the amazing experience of praying John 17 with friends from around the world! We were also influenced by our newfound connection with Anabaptists and their commitment to live out the Sermon on the Mount.
We spent a year (2018) pressing into this question. What would it mean for us to “live out John 17”? How can you live out a prayer, anyway? Especially Jesus’ prayer for us to be united, in the same way that He and the Father are united?!?
In 2019, we are taking our first step towards this high calling. The first step is for each of us, where we are at, to devote ourselves to living out John 17 in our personal lives. We envision introducing a community commitment in 2020, and a residential rule in 2021, Lord willing. But first, on June 7, the Friday before Pentecost, those who are willing to devote themselves in this way will join together to make the following commitment.
to Live Out John 17
For the Coming Year
I make this Statement of Personal Devotion freely and wholeheartedly. No other person has compelled me to do so, nor can any other person or circumstance prevent me from carrying it through. It is my responsibility. It is for me an act of love, carried out in concert with all those I am joining with to make this statement today.
Foundation of Faith
I affirm the historic Christian faith as expressed in the Nicene Creed.
Together recite the Nicene Creed
Foundation of Local Church Life
I am rooted in a particular ecclesial community of the people of God. I am a faithful, baptized member of a local expression of the body of Christ:
Name of church / parish / congregation / fellowship / synagogue
I intend to remain active in worship, giving, and service to my local < church / parish / congregation / fellowship / synagogue >.
Statement of Devotion
I devote myself to Jesus. I take into my own heart the prayer of Jesus’ heart. I choose to live out John 17 each day for the next year, to the best of my understanding and ability – especially Jesus’ prayer for unity in His church:
I pray also for whoever will believe in me through their message, so that they all will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us so that this world will believe that you sent me into this world. I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they will be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they will be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me into this world, and that you have loved them even as you have loved me.
-- John 17:21-23 (IEB)
Entering Into the Unity of the Trinity
John 17 is an invitation into the unity of the Trinity. I rejoice that I am invited into the relationship of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I recognize that our Father in heaven extends this invitation to every person on earth through Jesus. I embrace the glory of manifesting the name of God to everyone.
The Five Renunciations
Entering the unity of the Trinity requires walking in the light. To walk in the light, I must leave darkness behind.
1. I renounce hostility …
(First married men)
… towards God, my wife, and all people.
(Then married women)
… towards God, my husband, and all people.
(Then those who are not married)
… towards God and towards all people.
2. I renounce anti-Semitism.
3. I renounce anti-Catholicism.
4. I renounce anti-Protestantism.
5. I renounce contempt towards all whom Christ has accepted.
I will be open to the Holy Spirit showing me additional areas for repentance.
The Five Commitments
In order to live out John 17, I commit to these actions:
1. I will pray with Jesus for the unity of the Body of Christ.
2. I will be a minister of reconciliation.
3. I will grieve the divisions of the people of God.
4. I will thank God for the glory given to other ecclesial communities.
5. In regards to receiving communion, I will honor other ecclesial communities while staying true to the teachings of my own tradition.
Request for Power from the Holy Spirit
I cannot live out John 17 in my own strength. I need the living Spirit of the living God to guide and empower me.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
instructs the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations,
Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Father, I desire to be with Jesus where He is, and to see His glory, the glory You gave Him before the foundation of the world. I long for the government to be placed upon Jesus’ shoulders. I look towards the day when the Bride of Christ finally unites her voice and joins with the Spirit of God, so that together we cry out: “Come, Lord Jesus!” And I listen eagerly for the response of the Root and the Offspring of David: “Behold, I am coming soon!”
Note: a Study Guide for the Statement can be downloaded here, that provides additional description, commentary, Bible verses, and resources for study. Only Part 1 is currently available, which covers through the Renunciations … look for Part 2 coming soon!