Scripture: John 17:1-11 CEB
These words that Jesus prays to His Father reveal His eternal purposes and priorities. They go straight to the heart of our obedience as His disciples. We may not always want to hear this, but we must follow Jesus by putting aside what we want, by lifting our gaze to take in an eternal perspective, and then by putting the well being of others first.
In Puerto Rico, there is a saying, “the one who doesn’t like chicken broth receives three cups.” In other words, we must be willing to learn how to tolerate things that we don’t like. This is a hard lesson, but when we learn it, we become more accepting and compassionate with one another, and all of our relationships benefit.
There is nothing like living together in close quarters to bring out the best and worst in ourselves. Maybe you are spending more time with your family these days and are enjoying the good times, but there are also annoyances that come with being in such close proximity. My step-son whom I dearly love has moved in temporarily with us. Apparently, he can’t live without blasting his music at a very high volume. Now, you might think that because I am very friendly, and on occasion like to laugh out loud, that I enjoy a noisy atmosphere. On the contrary, I crave time alone and dearly love being in silence. So, because of my son’s music, I have a daily opportunity to learn tolerance. But, Jesus has shown me a bigger picture. It’s not about the music, which I still don’t like even at lower volumes. It’s about love. God wants to show His love to my son through his mother, and also through me. So, both Rosa and I have been putting up with his musical taste and we are intentionally showing him God’s love and acceptance. We will do whatever it takes to bring him closer to Jesus and to eternal life. This is Jesus’ perspective and purpose for all people.
There are many around us who need to be listened to and also hear that God loves them. Maybe you have one or two of these people nearby, even in your own home. All people need hope for their lives, but during this pandemic season, our hope has many obstacles. Our mental health has taken a beating due to anxiety, isolation, and fear. Suicides are on the increase. Nurses and doctors are dying because they were infected while fighting the disease. Essential workers and clergy have also taken their own lives. On the other hand, people are impulsively and forcibly breaking the protection guidelines and even hurting innocent people, including law enforcement officers because they seek a sense of freedom.
Now, more than ever, we need to receive Jesus’ eternal perspective so that we can learn to see what is truly important. We must follow Jesus’ words and commit to His mission through good and bad times. True believers agree with Simon Peter who said to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are God’s holy one” (John 6:68-69). We can keep His word (Joh 14:6) and live out our faith because Jesus assures us that “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do” (14:12a).
Living out our faith in Jesus means treasuring His presence and teachings, and then sharing the good news with the lowly, the depressed, the broken, and even with the anarchist who doesn’t want rules. The good news of eternal life is still relevant, especially amidst the reports we hear from the media. During this pandemic, God is calling us to take our personal mission in hand and to accomplish it. We can’t change the whole world and transform it into His kingdom. But we can collaborate with Jesus by becoming aware of our closest neighbor’s emotional and spiritual needs. We can draw closer to a person in need and share Jesus’ words and love with them. This is a call to become beacons of new hope for ones who are burdened, exhausted, and overwhelmed with all the sad news that surrounds us.
Jesus’ mission to bring eternal life to the world will happen when His disciples take charge and pursue active emphatic listening, restorative justice, and compassion. God can turn hopeless people into believers. He needs disciples who are willing to become images of Jesus by serving people who are in need of God’s love. You don’t need to change your tastes or lifestyle. God will do it. We don’t have to condone what we know is wrong or sinful. God will bring the ones we care for into that awareness. We just need to show them that there is another door they can go through, and that door is Jesus. Let’s share the good news, by words and example, whether inside our homes or outside of them.
Please, join with me in singing just the chorus of the hymn God of Grace and God of Glory: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.”