Ut unum sint. That is Latin for “that they may be one”. It was an encyclical put out by the Vatican in 1996 and it promised great hope for relations between Catholics and Protestants. I remember serving in Naples, Italy at the time and being encouraged that things were really going to change. They didn’t. But now, with Francis, things have significantly changed. For the first time in history a Pope has visited with the historical Protestant Church in Italy. It has never happened before in 700 years before this year. These are amazing times. It is from these verses where we get our mandate that as Christians we are all called to be one. It is Jesus’ prayer to his father that we would be unified. The reason behind us being one is so that our witness would be consistent.
If we profess to love God but do not love brothers and sisters in Christ of what use is that? This is Jesus’ primary emphasis in these verses. He knew that we would not always get along. In fact, he knew that things would get really difficult among believers to the point that they would separate from each other and not be one. I remain convinced that the greatest impediment to our Christian witness is the fact that we are not united as Christians.