“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.” — John 17:22-23
Unity is one of those team intangibles that’s highly treasured but not easily found. Michael Jordan is quoted as saying, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Long before Jordan spoke these words, Jesus declared the importance of unity in John 17. In fact, just hours before going to the cross, Jesus prayed that His disciples and all future followers would demonstrate unity (John 17:11, 21, 22).
Beyond sports, unity’s importance is magnified in other areas of life: marriage, church, communities, countries, families, ministries, etc. Its necessity is amplified by the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25: “Every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
The 1979 World Series was won by the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, on June 1 of that season, they were six games back and in fourth place in their division. During a rain delay that day at Three Rivers Stadium, the No. 4 song on the Billboard charts, “We Are Family,” blared over the sound system.
Sitting in the dugout was first baseman and team leader Willie Stargell. Knowing his team needed a rally cry, Stargell called the press box and declared that this song was “the official theme song of the 1979 Pirates.” Within minutes, that was posted on the stadium scoreboard. The song was played at every home game for the remainder of the season, reminding the team of the unity they were pursuing together.
Praying for unity, as Jesus did, reminds us to pursue it together.
— Jeff Totten, Detroit Tigers chaplain
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