Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In John17:11 and 15 Jesus specifically prays for his followers to be protected in this world by his name. He doesn’t ask the Father to rescue them out of the world, but to protect them in the world. Time after time we find ourselves wishing for release from this world and its trials. Yet that is not Jesus’ prayer for us. He is still using his people in this world to do his work, bringing his truth, bringing his love, showing the results of his grace.
On one level I understand very well why we would pray to be removed from the world. Our mortal lives are full of disappointment, hurt, and pain. One friend of mine recently commented that as she waited for a medical appointment that had been shifted from one physician to another one she suddenly had to deal with fear that was rather like an abandonment situation many years in the past. She knew it was irrational. That didn’t mean it wasn’t real. Others I work with deal with chronic pain. They may wish every day that the pain would go away. They are told in Scripture that in their heavenly home there will be no more pain. That sounds awfully good. Others live out the nightmare of trying to care for people who are suffering in poverty and who have nothing, no food, no clothing, no means of protection. It’s a nightmare because we realize that there will always be more people in need of care, and that for many of them there is no care we can provide which will bring healing.
What are we doing in this world? We are living out the will of God. We bring healing, mercy, grace, and charity where we are able. We remind others that the Lord who watches over us also watches over them. We remind our neighbors that Jesus gave his life for them as well as for us, and that we are willing to visit them with his care.
That’s a difficult road to walk down. But it’s the one the Lord has in mind. And we can take confidence as we walk that path. Jesus has prayed for us. God himself prays that we will be guarded in this world. It doesn’t get better than that. We therefore walk courageously through this world. Jesus has already gone before us. He’ll take care.
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