Scripture: John 17:6-19
There are some people around us that we seem to always be at odds with. It is not anything in particular that sets us off, it’s just our personalities clash for some reason. For many of us we tend to pass them off, avoid them, at times we may even blame them for everything going wrong in our lives. Saying if only they were not around I could focus on what I am really supposed to do. You know those people. I’m one of those people and so are you. I’m annoying to some, and they annoy me. Our world would be a better place if you all would just stop being yourselves and act like me, right? There is an issue in our world today, we do not like people that are different than us. In the dawn of our nation the founders had many debates, fights, and discussions, after the talk they would then head home as friends. Usually, at times someone ended up getting shot, but for the most part they were able to debate without attacking the personality. There is something about having friends of different opinions that can strengthen us. The authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien were friends who would discussed mythology and literature. Tolkien actually disliked Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia because Lewis mixed mythical elements together from various backgrounds. Tolkien strongly disliked this as well as alligory which is very evident in Lewis’s series. Tolkien went as far as telling Lewis that it would be foolish to try to publish the series. With that being said they continued their friendship and through it became two of the greatest fantasy writers in history. Tolkien was excited for Lewis’ success and glad that Jack did not take his advice, although he still thought it would have been better if he would not have used so much allegory.
Our world today seems to want to surround itself with people of like minds. We dislike the emotional strain arguments, and as a result our culture suffers. Our educational system fails to even teach the basic laws of of logic, leaving us unable to form a rational argument. So we end up banging each others drums but never really learning how to make a case. We value opinion, but we do not know how to form an opinion in grace, truth, and love.
Jesus had friends. He had friends from various backgrounds and lifestyles. Some were common laborers working in food production on farms and in the sea. Some of these friends were businessmen, government employees, and others were involved in resistance groups. Some were very religious and others basically turned their backs on the traditional faith. Many were involved in several areas all at once. Very little actually connected these men and women in every aspect of life, but one thing friendship. These friends were loyal to each other and to their leader.
The setting of the story is in the garden just prior to Jesus’s arrest, He was under the greatest amount of stress imaginable. He knew he was soon going to face the worst death issued to those under Roman rule. He was in anguish while his friends were thinking differently. They thought that they were finally going to see the rise of the kingdom of God. Judas often gets the bad rap as the son of perdition this night, but many are beginning to rethink Judas, was he betraying Jesus or was he simply trying to encourage Jesus to enter into the role he envisioned? Each of us have ideas as to what and where the assembly of believers should go or do. These ideas cause disagreements sometimes politicking that descends into hurt feelings. We try to encourage others into our view of devotion, while at the same time we may be snuffing out a smoldering wick of someone’s faith.
Jesus is there in the garden, praying for His friends. This group of people that spent the last three years trying to gain his favor for their own gain. Trying to force Him into worldly power just did not seem to get what he was saying, yet they were his friends and he loved them. He even prays for the one who betrays him. He says “I have revealed you to them, they know your word.” He is not praising their study skills here, but in actuality he is saying they know it, but they are still not quite getting it.
He spent three years in active ministry, in those three year He invested nearly every spare moment teaching these disciples. They knew the right answers according to the teachings of Jesus. They understood where in scripture Jesus was pulling His teachings from, but they had yet come to grips with how to live it out. The culture of the day was that disciples were to learn from the teacher, and then pass on the knowledge to the next generation. This they could do. That is religion. Jesus did not come to start a religion. He came to meet us where we are, give us the truth of who we are now and who we could be in Him, and to restore our relationship with God.
Just think about the actions of Christ. He was approached by lepers asking for healing. A righteous person would have mercy and toss some money or food at them, hoping they would leave. Some righteous people would take it upon themselves to administer justice and toss stones at them to chase the out of the community, because it was the law. Jesus did not do that he came to those shunned by society and he touched them. He initiated a relationship with them, and then he gave them the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. Jesus taught mercy and grace. We tend to think that the religious leaders of the day rejected these thing, but we’d be wrong. Most of what Jesus taught was not new concepts, many things He taught were things that were directly from the Books of the Law. They were the words or teachings of God. The difference duty or relationship.
Jesus prayed for his followers. He prayed that they would not be taken from the world but that they would be protected as they were sent into it. This prayer is deep. He is praying on many different levels. The teachings were not totally new, but the activities were. If His followers just taught we would not be sitting in a Friends Meeting house on a Sunday morning, instead we would be gentile God fearers worshiping with our Jewish neighbors, if we were sitting here at all. What was to eventually set these guys apart from the rest of the teachers was the active faith, the incarnation of the teaching in the relationships they were to build.
It is when we actually start living a life of Christ that we become a threat to the world. It starts with belief and knowledge, it builds when we care enough to invest money,it is all out spiritual warfare when we begin to walk in the ways of Christ. It is when we engage and invest our time and resources into the lives of the people marginalized we begin to get threats from the evil one, and the world begins to hate us. Jesus prays that the Father would protect them. That they would unite in the continued work of the Kingdom and that the joy of Christ would abundantly fill their lives.
We live in a world that dislikes differing ideas. They divide us up into groups of special interest, and use us for their own gain. We let them. We encourage them and we participate in it. It gets to the point that we cannot even associate with people of different ideas or backgrounds, because in doing so we threaten the power structure of society. We are no different than the original disciples of Jesus, broken up into groups by society, but left wanting more. We are more than a political agenda, we are more than a vote to give someone power to rule.
We are people loved by God. Loved to such a degree that Jesus came to live among us, to protect us, encourage us, and to provide a way to redeem us. He came to reveal the truth, and in that truth joy. The joy of who we were created to be. Everyone is valued and loved by God. Yet often we let outside forces seep into our lives, we let the world twist and pervert the truth of God’s love and we become instruments of the world instead of bearers of Light. Prayer is our protection. Prayer and meditation where we read the witness of God in the lives of people in scripture, letting seep deeply into our souls until we are totally saturated in the truth.
It is there, saturated in truth and love, when we are truly able to engage with those people that seem to annoy us and not be consumed by anger. It is when we are soaked in the Spirit of God when we can engage in conversations with people we do not always agree with and be loving and encouraging. It is in that Spiritual saturation where we can truly minister to the needs of a broken and hurting world.
Jesus prays for us. He asks His Father to set us apart and to send us out. He asks that we will be protected as we extend the influence of God into the world. Are we willing to let Jesus’ prays become our? Are we willing to let our joy be His and His joy be our? Are we ready to love the people of our community that God loved enough to send his only son not to condemn but to save? Let us enter now into a time of Holy expectancy. If you are lead to share please feel free, but let us enjoy and soak in the Spirit so we can engage the world we have been sent to.