SONG #8 OF 50: “MAKE US ONE (HOLY SPIRIT)” – A PRAYER FOR UNITY
About a year ago, the leadership at my church was discussing a nuanced doctrinal matter.
It wasn’t a core orthodox doctrine by any stretch, but it was an emotional and loaded topic for many. And I was part of that “many.” I went into the first meeting with journal pages full of Scripture references, questions, and defenses for my position. I tried to keep a lid on it, but I was cocked and loaded with an answer for every question I could think of. I had an embarrassingly large stack of commentaries, textbooks, and references in case I needed them. I was basically the church version of Leslie Knope, ready for a good debate.
At the beginning of our meeting, my friend Todd said, “Guys, I’m feeling like we need to read Jesus’ prayer from John 17.” Todd went on to read Jesus’ beautiful prayer for unity among his followers. In those opening moments, I began to feel a bit convicted. You’ve heard of “bringing a knife to a gunfight”? In terms of my attitude and posture, I’d brought an assault rifle to a family picnic.
That first conversation about unity significantly reshaped my posture from that point on. It was okay to have an opinion and even to be passionate about it. But it wasn’t okay to make adversaries in the process.
Over the course of several months, I learned what it looked like to approach the table with open hands. I had to give up my desire to win, my desire to be right. I had to give up the right to take my bat and ball and go home if things didn’t go my way. I was reminded that it’s okay to slightly disagree with someone and still worship together. I learned that certain doctrinal nuances that I held dear had become “top shelf” priorities while the doctrine of “unity” had become secondary. According to Jesus, I had my theological priorities out of line.
That week, I began to write out my prayers to the tune of this song I’d been working on for a long time. While I could never quite find the right lyrics before, these prayers of unity fell into place quickly.
Jesus’ final prayer before his arrest – and his longest recorded prayer in the gospels – is a prayer for unity among his followers. Allow me to go out on a limb and paraphrase his prayer by personalizing it for the modern church. May our unity reflect the glory of the God who is perfect unity, three in one.
“Lord Jesus make us one, just as you and the Father are one – as you are in the Father and the Father is in you. May we believe in you so that the world will believe you’ve sent us.
Help us to reflect your glory through our unity. Let us be in you like you are in the Father. May we experience such perfect unity that the world will be convinced of your love. We want the Kingdom to come, here and now, among us, and so reflect the love of God that existed before time and will last forever.
O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you. But Jesus does, and through Jesus we know you too. Continue to give us new revelations of your love and glory, and let us reflect that to the world.”
Come and humble us, and make us one / Come and humble us, oh Lord / Open our hands up, and teach us love / Open our hands up, oh Lord
Though sin divides us / Lord come unite us
Oh Spirit of God, drown out all the lies / For You are enough to fill our desires / Oh Spirit of God, come soften our pride / Awaken Your church to be unified
Come and build Your Church and Your Kingdom / Come and build Your church, oh Lord
Make us one / Make us one / Make us one, Holy Spirit
Co-written with Clint Reed & Scott Rice. Backing vocals by Melissa Hauger and Sonny Griffith. Arrangement by Tucker Krajewski.
How I wrote it.
By the time it was finished, I worked for almost two years on this song. Aside from the “Oh Spirit of God” lines in the chorus, I could never pinpoint what the song was meant to be about. I didn’t have a thesis. I rewrote several drafts and never felt like I stuck the landing. But after Todd read John 17 and our church leadership rallied around Jesus’ prayer for unity, it seemed clear was the song was meant to be. Together with Clint I finished the song quickly based around John 17, and we started singing it as a church soon thereafter.
The original version of this song is a half-time, swung feel like the Beatles “I’m Only Sleeping.” One Sunday I was preaching at church rather than leading worship, and my friend (and intern at the time) Tucker Krajewski was leading the band that morning. As I walked into church that morning the band was rehearsing and sounding better than ever. I walked in to discover that they’d completely re-arranged the groove of the song with some tasty results. This guitar and harmonica demo doesn’t do justice to their full band version, but you can thank Tuck for the driving Rod Stewart acoustics.
Every week I post a new worship song with intentions of helping others navigate a life with Jesus, giving words and music to some of our prayers. Subscribe to the blog and get a song each week in your inbox. >>>