The Prayer for Unity of Christ’s Church by Greg Gordon

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 17:23

Many have marvelled over this priestly prayer that our Lord uttered. It is the longest recorded prayer that Jesus left us with and it shows the very heart of God in it. If you could think of all the things that could be prayed during the last days of Jesus being on this earth we could think of many things. Yet our Lord had in his heart this one important topic: Unity. And not just unity in general but ‘complete unity’ a unity that is perfect and full. The prayer is not for boldness or perfect speech and unction but rather great unity. In the fanfare of excitement in certain christian circles we can be seeking power, outward displays and not realize that a unity with other brothers and sisters is the foundation for our witness to the world. Though false teachers were exposed such as Judas, yet our Lord’s call was for united purpose in being his Disciples and sharing the Good News. Our unity is not found in our preferences, styles or exact thinking but rather it is found in the person of the Godhead. Our knowing and partaking (2 Peter 1:4) of the Son of God is where our unity meets with other believers. We are formed together as one body, through one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Seeking after unity should not been seen as compromise but a desire to share in the true heart of God for his Church. We do not unify with those who are practicing falsehood and sin but we should not shun unity with those who do not exactly think and act like our style of Church. God looks past much of the differences we look at and see’s the heart and worship in bodies of believers.

Tertullian says, “We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force.” Early believers were united by purpose, hope, godly disciplines, prayer and confession. In our day of individualism and striving to be unique and heard God’s people need to recapture the sense of unity of the Church where all are a part of its purpose and mission. When Jesus ascended he did not desire all the Apostles to start their own Churches and ideas but his prayer was for great unity that no matter what happened they would stay unified. When we lose the reverence for God and his working we easily break fellowship, create dis-unity and seek our own way s better. When we lose the fear of God we question godly ministers, ministries and Church works that have been established and blessed by God for many years. The spirit of independence questions everything and sets one up as the authority rather then submitting to authority. The way of unity with believers in the body of Christ is the way of submission, humility and christ-likeness. Hear our Lord’s prayer again for you today, he prays that you are unified with others in the body of Christ. See our Lord looking at you from the right hand of God, he accepts you, will you not accept others in the body of Christ. He gave His own life for you, will you not open yourself up to others and be unified as the Church?
Thanks for this reminder for all believers, here. I especially find that this comment resonates with what I have believed for a few years, now, about the independent spirit, and the reality we see often, especially in those who call themselves Christians and participate in online forums and Christian news online publication commentary---of their complete lack of the fear of God. Their mouths expose their hearts.

When we lose the fear of God we question godly ministers, ministries and Church works that have been established and blessed by God for many years. The spirit of independence questions everything and sets one up as the authority rather then submitting to authority.
Early believers were united by purpose, hope, godly disciplines, prayer and confession.
I like the totality of your OP, and not trying to be argumentative, but I think a lot of people have been burned from following what seemed to be Godly leaders. That is why Paul was led to include "prove all things" and compare what others teach to what Paul taught and discard improper teachings. Both Paul and John warned of individuals who were leading others astray, even naming them.
Then we also have the great assembly of the church elders and apostles to decide on whether circumcision was needed or not. The one thing the early church did have was the Apostles who were taught directly by the Master. They had undisputed authority on doctrine, except when Paul gave Peter "what for" for letting his image of what others saw him doing, affect his actions.
On top of that, the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation, only one church was not criticized by Jesus.
Clearly, the early church had its divisions as we do today, but they had the apostles as a trustworthy resource of doctrine. Ours is the Bible, and Peter was right about those who would twist it.
Someone once asked me if my only choice in life was to either be happy or know the truth which would I choose. I told him unequivocally my choice would be the truth. And therein lies a problem, for many would rather be happy.

Sadly, the intent of Christ's prayer in John 17 the OP shared rapidly began to evaporate for the visible church (not to be confused with the true soma of Christ) while some of the apostles still lived. By the second century, heretical groups calling themselves "Christian" had increased in number to the point they were actually challenging orthodoxy for the very future of Christian epistemology. Most of these false "teachers," "prophets," etc... even came out of the early church exactly as the epistles in the new testament state, some sought to co-opt it from within, and some formed apart from it.

It grew so bad that by 355 AD (when Constantine's son Constantius II become Emperor) the Nicene creed was in process of reversal for Arianism, Eusebius of Nicomedia made bishop of Constantinople, the exiled Arian bishops restored, Pope Liberius exiled and Antipope Felix II placed in his stead.

And that may have been where traditional Christianity died in Western Civilization were it not for God's intervention resulting in the loss of Arian imperial patronage in 378 and the and the Council of Constantinople of 381 which upheld Nicene orthodoxy extending it safeguard the deity of the Holy Spirit rebutting the Pneumatomachi as well as all Arians. But it wasn't until the seventh century AD that Christian Gnosticism finally could no longer challenge traditional Christianity for the heart of Christian epistemology.

These are but examples of some of the more politically powerful ancient Christian heresies that arose to challenge traditional Christianity. It happened early, powerfully, and it's never ended. Even now new revisions of old heresies and newer so-called Christian cults constructed on falsehood exist all over the world ever deceiving and challenging traditional Christianity.

In light of this, I believe the best we can hope for and work toward until Christ's second coming is to see Christ's prayer answered within His true soma. My opinion. Peace.