“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf that of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one” (vv. 20-22).
Jesus seems to be asking his Father, God, to hold all of those who believe in him as the same. It seems to matter not how the belief was acquired, from Jesus himself, from one of his twelve disciples or from another who learned from one of them, or another who learned from them, or another, ad infinitum. It is important that the belief in Jesus was acquired rather than from whom it was acquired.
This also seems to indicate that there are not different levels among believers based upon from whom the belief in Jesus was learned. And it therefore does not seem to be very important whether the belief was acquired yesterday or a half a lifetime ago. All believers are equal before God.
This equality before God and Jesus’ love for his followers is spoken of again in verses 23-26. God’s love will be in Jesus and in his followers as well.
O Lord, please help us to respect, value, and love all of those who call themselves Christians, whether they are of the same group as we are or another. And lord, please help us to love, value and respect those of us who call themselves by other titles, such as Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, non-believers and others. We affirm that we are all children of God and have the capacity to love one another as God loves us. Amen.