Finally, I’m back at it. Only two joy verses left in the Gospels, which I thought I would be finished with long before the end of October. At least I know I can finish them before this month is out!
I have been sick off and on, and now my husband is going through some health struggles. To top it all off, we were out of town at a retreat last week, and all of those things have added up to me not blogging in… 3 weeks? Has it really been that long? And that one was only a quick post to let everyone know that I was sick. So it’s been more than a month since I’ve regularly posted. I don’t intend to have that much time get away from me again.
Today’s passage comes from John 17:13-18 (I chose the NRSV because it’s a bit easier to read). It comes from a rather long section of the Gospel that is entirely a prayer Jesus prays on Maundy Thursday (the day before His crucifixion, when He gave His disciples the command to love each other and also instituted the Lord’s Supper). The “You” Jesus addresses is the Father.
But now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but I ask You to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
It’s hard to be a Christian, living in this world. Jesus Himself recognized that we need to live in this world, but we do not belong to it because of our relationship with Him. What saddens me is how often I see Christians who insist on separating themselves from the world. They want to live in their cloistered communities, attempting to protect themselves and their children from any and all influences, as though that will keep the devil from attacking them. We can’t protect ourselves from the evil one – that’s God’s job.
Jesus did not ask for us to be taken out of the world; in fact, He was specific in stating that He did NOT want that. He sends us into the world. After all, how can the world come to know Him if we don’t shine His light? We are called to be IN the world, but not OF the world. So often, the approach of Christians is to not be IN or OF the world, as though we can somehow protect the light from the darkness.
But here is the truth: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 ESV). There is no place so dark that light cannot penetrate it. It is impossible for darkness to overtake light. Darkness is the absence of light, not the opposite. Light is powerful, and the Light of Life in Christ can touch the darkest of souls.
God’s blessings to you all as you carry the light into the world. Let’s keep praying for each other the way Jesus prayed for His disciples, and encourage each other in our daily mission!