On the last full day of His mortal life, the Savior gathered His disciples for a meal. He washed their feet. He instituted the ordinance of the sacrament. He taught them and answered their questions. And then, He prayed for them and for all people who would believe their words:
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me….
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.John 17:21-23
Not long after, when He visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He offered a similar prayer on behalf of the people assembled there:
Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.3 Nephi 19:23
On January 2, 1831, at a conference of the Church in Fayette, New York, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord said, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).
Disciples of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to work for greater unity with one another and in the world. As Elder Quentin L. Cook observed last General Conference:
We live in a moment of particularly strong divisions. However, the millions who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ have committed themselves to achieving both righteousness and unity. We are all aware that we can do better, and that is our challenge in this day. We can be a force to lift and bless society as a whole. At this 200-year hinge point in our Church history, let us commit ourselves as members of the Lord’s Church to live righteously and be united as never before. President Russell M. Nelson has asked us “to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect.” This means loving each other and God and accepting everyone as brothers and sisters and truly being a Zion people.“Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity,” General Conference, October 2020
Last week, as we studied section 29 of the Doctrine and Covenants, I noticed that the Lord twice referenced the unity of the small group who were present when this revelation was received:
- At the beginning of the revelation, He reiterated the following promise: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:6).
- Later in the revelation, He explains, “It is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:33).
As Sister Sharon Eubank explained last General Conference, unity amongst ourselves is a key to receiving God’s power:
I offer this invitation: be part of a collective force that changes the world for good. Our covenantal assignment is to minister, to lift up the hands that hang down, to put struggling people on our backs or in our arms and carry them. It isn’t complicated to know what to do, but it often goes against our selfish interests, and we have to try…. I have full spiritual confidence that, as we seek union of feeling, we will call down the power of God to make our efforts whole.“By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God,” General Conference, October 2020
Today, I will strive for greater unity—with my family, with other members of my congregation at church, and with the teams I work with throughout the day. I will remember that disciples of Christ seek to be unified with each other and to increase the unity and reduce the divisions in the world.