Read John 17:1-11.

I once heard the complaint that we don’t really get to know much about Jesus in the gospels. We see his activities, we hear his sermons, but who was the man? What did he love? What were his hopes and plans? What kinds of thoughts ran through his mind when he wasn’t preaching?

I think this person must not have read John 17, or not understood it.

In this, Jesus’ closing prayer for his disciples and for the world, we see Jesus’ deepest desires. We see the purpose and end of his ministry. We see his overarching plan for the future. And, in Jesus, we see into the heart of God. We see the intent and meaning and direction of the universe.

It is this: that “they may be one as we are one.” That “they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, [that] they may also be in us.”

The direction of the universe is toward a kind of universal merger. Like the Big Bang in reverse. Like one big church family, one universal body of Christ. Like the communion of the saints, fully realized. A communion that includes God himself. And any union that includes God is replete with blessing.

John’s vision of the future is of an enormous city coming down from heaven, one huge community where God himself is present, where God is the light that lights all things, where the river of life is always flowing from the center of the city. This city is made of crystal so that all things are visible. It is beautiful in its symmetry and radiance and fruit. It closely packed, with many rooms in limited space.

The nationalism and racism and political division and tribalism and sectarianism we see in the world are of course directly opposed to Christ. And yet, there may be a kind of baby step toward Christian maturity in tribalism, if it involves going out from pure love of self to a love of (at least a few) others. But it is not a place to remain.

Nowhere in this world is a place to remain. Life is a migration toward the center, toward the union of all people and all things.

In that light, it makes sense that John says “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and