This morning my reading is John 17. The 26 verses of John 17 record a prayer by Jesus. He prays first about Himself (Verses 1-5), second for His disciples (Verses 6-19), and finally over every future believer (Verses 20-26). I could spend a month of mornings digesting all the riches contained just in this one chapter, so I call out in my heart to God to narrow my focus to what He wants to teach me today. Three verses particularly speak to my heart.
- My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (Verse 15) - One of the things Scott and I observed almost immediately after he entered vocational church work is how easily every friendship and association could be limited to those within the church. Effort will be required to ensure that we get to know neighbors, parents at school and those in our community. Jesus' prayer is not that I go live in isolation with a complete lack of awareness of what's happening around me. Instead, Jesus' prayer is that I will fully engage with the community I live in under God's watchful care.
- Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (Verse 17) - This verse seems to stand in contradiction to Verse 15. The word translated sanctify means to "separate from profane things and dedicate to God". How can I separate from profane things and engage in my culture simultaneously? Perhaps the linchpin is what follows sanctify. Jesus prays that I'll be sanctified by truth, which is God's Word. If I stay immersed in the Word I can concurrently grow more like Jesus and remain relevant to the world I live in.
- [I pray] that all of them may be one, Father (Verse 21) - Verse 20 begins the section where Jesus prays for all other believers. I am literally on the edge of seat with my head leaned forward to hear what Jesus will pray over the future church. Unity is the cry of Jesus' heart for His church. What could one believer possibly do to impact the unity of thousands of believers? 1) Start Where I am - I can begin by building unity in my own home. Unity happens here when I focus on my own need to change and put other's needs before my own. Once I practice it here, I am better equipped to be peaceful in the larger arenas of my life. 2) Understand What Unity is and is not - Unity is setting aside matters of personal preference and personality for the sake of peace. Unity is not a fake pretension of peace fueled by lack of confrontation and gossiping. I am by nature a "sweeper-under-the-rugger". I'd much rather ignore a problem or discuss it with everyone but the offender. I need to learn instead to take offenses to God and let Him be the determiner of whether I take it to the offender (and no one else) or not. Then I'll be an agent of unity instead of dissension.
Jesus, today because I've spent time being sanctified by Your Word, I am free to engage in the world around me. Help me make the most of those opportunities. Additionally, help me promote true unity and peace within your church today.