The Great Exchange

John 14, 15, 16 and 17 – it was a scheduled reading not too long ago, in our read-through-the-Bible in a year plan. Naturally, we didn’t read through the Bible in a year – but we have been reading it aloud together, as a family – slowly getting further and further behind in the schedule, but also getting further and further ahead in Scripture. So, there’s that. 

In these four chapters, Jesus is hammering a single point home in a thousand different ways. If I were a better student of the Bible, I would say that he is hammering a bunch of different points home, but I’m not a theologian whose stock and trade is in making distinctions. Rather, I see just a couple of broad brush-strokes being cast here, and they are said, then repeated, then repeated again, and repeated again-again. Followed by a few more times for emphasis. 

One thing I have learned in studying the Bible, is that if something matters, Hebrew writers don’t use exclamation points, but rather they say it one more time. Sometimes they say the inverse, but either way that repetition is the exclamation point.  I wonder how many times Jesus repeated the idea of Unity in the Spirit, and Obedience to His Word in these four chapters. I’m thinking He said this one thing more here than He said anything else anywhere, throughout all of Scripture – and anything else throughout all of time and space. Seriously. 

Unity in the Spirit and Obedience to His Word – that’s also, as the kids say these days, ‘same-same’. Being united in the Holy Spirit is to be obedient to the Holy Word – because, along with God the Father, is God the Son and also God the Holy Spirit – each one working together, in perfect unity and obedience. If we are His, we will also be operating with His mind and heart and actions – just as God, in His hard-to-comprehend Trinity, does.

Unity in the Spirit, and Obedience to His Word -- is constant repentance, and boldness, too. Humility with a clear voice. It means so much more, but no less. I am not my own.

In being His, as described here, I noticed that unity doesn’t mean being united with unbelievers. It is unity in the Spirit. We are not to kowtow to the spirit of this age or to the people who do not submit themselves to the authority of God – sure, we’re to have a good witness among unbelievers outside the church walls and inside as well, but what Jesus is focused upon here is altogether something different – those who are His will be operating together, unified – like a marriage. 

One thing I also noticed here, is that being His doesn’t mean we are mindless drones – quite the opposite: being created uniquely is not mutually exclusive to being united in the Spirit. He definitely gives us different gifts, and He absolutely redeems our individual sins. Nowhere in Scripture does God ever give the hint that those whom He calls must stop engaging their brain, become borg-like with a hive-mind, and become cult-like with some weird group-think. It’s true that being united in the Spirit and obedient to His Word does change a person; no longer will we operate like our former selves, who once belonged to the enemy. Those whose life and allegiance are Christ’s are actively renewing their minds – and so we recognize that we are all on His team, fighting the battles He directs, taking orders from no other captain, having each other’s backs, operating with our unique specialties, toward His goal. 

We are thinkers, and we are united. We are active, and we are His. We will obey Christ because our life is now His. And because we have His Spirit, we will operate together; as one. We are His, and He is ours, (the first half of that statement is crazy-amazing, while the second half is unfathomable to my little mind.)  My life is forfeit to Him, because Christ forfeit His life for me, (which is the very essence of the Good News). And all who respond to that truth are on the side of the Creator of the Universe, as one.