October 6, 2016 (published Oct 7)
It is difficult to read these words of Jesus. “Whoever kills you…thinks they are doing a good thing for God.” (v.2) My mind immediately went to the accounts of Isis and others who actually think killing Christians is a good thing, pleasing to their Muslim god. But these words were just as true for those first century followers. Here Jesus informs His disciples of the upcoming persecution they will face. I don’t like to read such stuff. I want to read that Jesus’ followers are protected and live peaceful lives. But then I’m reminded, Jesus didn’t come to establish some utopia here on earth, but to judge the ruler of this world (v. 11) and rescue His people from his evil grip.
The beginning of this 16th chapter of John’s gospel reveals how the Jews were going to not only rid the disciples from the synagogue, the Jews would seek to rid the earth of their lives. How horrid! Sin and the evil one sure can implement deception in this world. Nevertheless, these words, and the previous chapters, are words of Jesus that provide hope and comfort amidst the struggle and pain of sin and persecution. Not just for those first century followers, but for me (and you) today. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit (the Helper) for the disciples well being. A source of strength in the difficult days ahead. (v.7)
Knowing I’m connected to the vine, knowing that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, knowing that Jesus did not come to the world to condemn the world but to save it, these realities bring me hope no matter what I face in this world. Whether Isis or another religious nutcase comes into my life and kills me, he or she can’t take away the reality that Christ has ushered into my heart, mind, and soul. Hillsong United sings Oceans, based on St. Peter’s attempt at walking on water, but has the focus of Christ being our savior. “I am His. You are mine.” This is true in all aspects of life.
As I type these words, I’m on a United flight to Oregon for a conference. I’m having to trust in this plane, the pilots and crew to keep me airborne. I do. But I trust in Christ more so, that no matter what happens in the days, months, years ahead, Christ has me. I am His, dead or alive.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Jesus has glorified Your name. He promises You will answer our prayers. Lord, I pray for the unbelievers in this dark world. I pray according to Your Will that hearts will change from darkness to light, from hatred to love, from selfishness and greedy entitlement attitudes, to selflessness and generous, cooperative living towards others. Forgive me of my failures and work in me these traits as You work through me to others. Thank You, Father, for hearting my prayer. Amen.