“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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”—John 17:20, 21 (NIV).
These words of Jesus in the heart of His farewell address looked beyond the cross toward the future that the apostles were going to face after the death of Jesus Christ. They also refer to the mission of the church and express what is needed for the success of the church even today.
Jesus prayed for His disciples. We have the assurance that our Savior continues to pray for us. Knowing that Jesus is praying for us gives us the strength to carry on in times of difficult challenges.
Jesus prayed for those who will believe in Him through the work and preaching of His apostles. Each generation of church members and leaders is trusted with the sacred duty to continue the mission of the church to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”—Matthew 28:19 (NIV).
The imperative of mission and evangelism has kept the Atlantic Union Conference growing for 121 years. The mission is still the same in 2022. We may utilize different approaches and adjust the methodologies of evangelism to the times, but the mission is still the same. The message remains the same, and the foundation upon whom the church is built is immovable. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”—1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV). “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is his new creation by water and the Word. From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride; with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.”—Stone, S.J. (1866), The Church Has One Foundation, Retrieved June 13, 2022, https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/348-the-church-has-one-foundation.
Jesus prayed for his disciples to be one, united. This unity, not to be confused with uniformity, encompasses unity of mission, purpose, and destiny. I still remember when I was a little boy in the Pathfinder club repeating the Pathfinder aim: “The Advent Message to all the world in my generation.” This aim remains the same for this generation of youth, young adults, and older Adventists living in 2022. We—members, pastors, teachers, directors, and administrators—are agents of hope in this continuum of believers who are united to go and share with the world the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. This sacred bond and legacy of mission, purpose, and hope binds us together with all generations of leaders who labored with the aim to preach “the Advent Message in my generation.”
Jesus prayed that a result of our unity is that the world will believe that the Father has sent Him. If we are sent by God, it means that we are ambassadors. As such, we do not bring our own message. We carry the message of the One who sent us. Our message to the world must be the Word of God and not our own word. The power that will transform the world is in the Word of the living God. As ambassadors, we are accountable to the One who has commissioned us.
Each generation is called upon to remain anchored in Christ, the solid Rock, and, at the same time, to build on what has been accomplished before and make a difference for the good of the church. A lot has been accomplished in the history of the Atlantic Union Conference, and there is still much more to be achieved. May God help this generation of leaders and members to be united so we can accomplish our mission and fulfill our responsibilities faithfully and with dignity and honor.