Do I really want to know Jesus?
My habitual skimming over of John 17 makes me wonder. In this extended prayer, my Teacher and Lord pours out his pure, inner heart for believers, “those whom you gave me.” As a godly mother stands in passionate authority in the gap between her child and the ravenous world, so Jesus gives himself for us in prayer, revealing much about God’s will for His Beloved.
1. Jesus asks God for authority over all people and for his own self-glorification (“glorify me”). What a bold prayer. It would seem selfish if I prayed so. But the “lifting up” Jesus seeks is on a Roman cross, and the authority to give eternal life – something he already possesses - will come at the cost of his own dignity, comfort, freedom and life. “Can you drink the cup I drink?”
2. Jesus asks God to protect us “so that they may be one as we are one.” What does this mean!? For starters: “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them…they have obeyed my word.” I am one with Jesus and the Father when I accept and obey the words the Father gave Jesus to give to me. AND I AM ONE WITH ALL OTHER SAINTS WHO DO LIKEWISE. Lord it is hard enough to know if/when I obey your word; how can I see into the hearts of others? “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Deep calls to deep, and the Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in other believers – how good and pleasant it is. Separated from them by (some) creed and background and worship practice and language and politics and standards of living, still I see and hear Jesus in the word of their testimony and the humility and love in their deeds.
3. It has been my experience that unity is best experienced in trench warfare, not behind-the-lines haggling. When Christians gather to debate doctrine, they emphasize their differences. When they stand shoulder to shoulder against the foe – say, at a Billy Graham crusade or an abortion clinic – their very real need for each other is emphasized and their differences de-emphasized. Yes, we must walk in truth together. But meanwhile….Christian unity for me would be the Pope and Billy Graham bicycle-locked together in front of an abortion clinic.
4. In response to the prayer of Jesus, God will not take me “out of the world,” but he will protect me from the evil one. As I pray like Jesus prayed, I will not pray for my children to be removed from the world, but that their souls will be protected. I work in the Vermont Statehouse almost daily; yeah, I am “in the world.” I am learning how to not be of it.
5. I await God’s answer to the glorious prayer of vs. 24, which he has answered at least in part for Diane and many other saints: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Now THAT is Oneness!