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This is part of a series of posts based on the Churches Together in England publication one light: one world. If you click on the link you will find the biblical texts. This post of the same name covers the purpose of this series.
John 17: 20 - 23
This is the passage most commonly quoted in ecumenical circles. If we read it in the light of the last post though, we see it is not just about ecumenism between churches, but the wider Oikoumene.
Jesus prays not only for his disciples but for those who believe through their word. He is asking for unity not of a narrow community but of the whole world. Jesus prays not for the church but the world. The intention is clearly the whole world and not some subset of self-appointed Christians.
The prayer then focuses upon the disciples. The world will know who Christ is through the unity of the disciples. It is the love we have for one another, whatever our differences, that is persuasive for the world. The unity of Christians is a precursor to Oikoumene.
The word 'glory' means those attributes of God we perceive through our senses. The glory, the sensory evidence of God, is the unity of Christians. This is why the ecumenical movement is essential.
If Christians are seen to be one, then God's glory is seen throughout the world and this will lead to the greater Oikoumene, the unity of all things.