Calm for the Chronically Contentious
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you 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.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23 NIV
We live in contentious times, which has made it easier for us to accept divisiveness among Christians. Jesus didn’t accept divisiveness; he expected unity. His words in John 17:20-23 were meant to calm the potential contentiousness in those who followed him, by making sure they understood that the only way people would believe God that sent him was if the disciples were completely unified.
Calm is a powerful word meaning “peaceful, quiet, or relaxed; without hurried movement, anxiety, or noise.” We all have the potential to be contentious, which is defined as “causing or likely to cause disagreement.” When Jesus calms, he is leading us into a more peaceful, quiet, and relaxed attitude, which is a necessity for unity.
An interesting question to ask is, “Am I calm or contentious?” Based on our answer we can move to another question, “Do I tend to be unifying or divisive?” A third and final question can be, “How effective am I at calming the contentious and creating unity where there had been division?” Somewhere in these three questions when honestly answered, we can learn what we need to do to become a calming rather than contentious influence, so that the John 17:20-23 prayer of Jesus’ can become a reality in our lives.
- Read John 17-19.
- Read Proverbs 14:30 AMP and make a list of 2-5 things you can do to become more calm.
- Read Galatians 5:19-21 Voice and identify 2-5 forms of contentiousness to avoid.
- Read Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV and explain 2-3 keys to keeping our relationships unified.
For many Christians, the subject of unity is a contentious one. Yes, the subject of unity can be contentious for many Christians (I will leave the irony of this in your hands). Perhaps this is why all statistical indicators point to a decline in the number of people identifying themselves as Christians. After all, Jesus prayed for us to be, “brought to complete unity”, because in his words this is the only way “the world will know” that God sent him.
All of this should teach us that we will lose or gain influence in this world based on our capacity to be and remained unified – and this unity requires each one of us to embrace the calmness of Jesus.
*Definitions in “The 12 Days of Jesus” studies are based on the Cambridge Dictionary
- Feature: The 12 Days of Jesus
- Day 1: Conqueror of Darkness
- Day 2: Courage in the Temple
- Day 3: Compassion for the Disabled
- Day 4: Confidence Turns the Tide
- Day 5: Captivating the Crowds
- Day 6: Cagey and Colorful in Conflict
- Day 7: Controversial to the Conventional
- Day 8: Convincing the Confused
- Day 9: Comforting the Cautious
- Day 10: Clarity for the Complicated
- Day 11: Calm for the Chronically Contentious
- Day 12: Concerned about the Cynical