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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Jesus Prayed for Us (You and Me)

Most of the time the Bible is about other people in other places at other times. While not history as you and I understand the word it is still historical in a real sense. It focuses on the mysteries of God and the every day life experiences of people in these far off lands. We read the words and apply them to our own situations, but it is most commonly an exercise of interpretation and application, exegesis and theology in the purest sense of the word. By using analogy we can make sense of our own lives and the ways of God. By using an open, prayerful heart we can hear God speak to us through His living Word here and now.

However, today, Jesus is talking about us. Not in a generic, "you too can apply this to your life," but in an actual focus on us. You and Me. People who did not exist then. People whom He had in mind and on His heart at the Last Supper. I think if He is that focused on us we should focus on what He said.

In Morning Prayer today our Gospel was from John 17:20ff. During Easter Season it is customary to go to John's Last Supper account and read and meditate on the words of Jesus there. Today's words are toward the very end of the discourse, just before they go out to the garden. Jesus says, "I ask not only on behalf of these [disciples] but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their word." That is where we showed up in His prayer. We are the ones who believe through the word (testimony) of the disciples. We are those who have not seen yet believe. This lets us know that Jesus intended a movement. He intended that people tell other people and form a fellowship. In fact, that is the main focus. Hear His words:
As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, may they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. Church unity has an evangelistic utility. The disunity of the church is the primary anti-Gospel. People pointing at our feuding and fighting and failure to get along is sufficient cause for them to doubt that Jesus is from God. And Jesus seems to have known that and prayed it would not happen. And based on church history it appears that the prayer of Jesus was not answered. We are not one. And the world does not believe. And our choices and decisions and behaviors factor into the failure of faith.

Jesus prays that we wil be completely one. Not in some "spiritual" sense which excludes actual unity. The world is flesh and blood, concrete and tangible. The church is part of the world so unity can not be a word without substance. Church unity is vital. The greatest obstacles to church unity are church people. Our satisfaction with the current disunity is at odds with Jesus' prayer.

Anyone familiar with "ecumenism" knows how difficult it is to do with integrity. It is also hard to get most Christians active in their local parish/church/community. A more global vision is almost unthinkable. We cannot be truly "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" without a bigger world view. And we cannot be faithful as church if we disregard Jesus' prayer; or water it down into a meaningless word where we comfortably live in our silos ignoring the mandate to love and unity.

 The Trinity is the blue print. The love of Father-Son-Spirit is the source and model of church. The goal of evangelism includes church unity (literally people unity). Saving souls without that dimension seems to run counter to Jesus' intent. Jesus wants others to hear the story, to learn of Him. Yet, He makes (prays) clearly, that union with Him is also union with one another. So today I pray that we can all be one. I pray like Jesus. And I wonder, what I can do to make it another step closer? And I take comfort in knowing that if Jesus prayed for it, the Father will hear His prayer. The Father will make it happen. The Father will say YES to Jesus' petition:  I in them and You in Me...

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