“Take Jesus With You”
Introduction: Jesus or the World?
How does that old bumper sticker go: You just have to “Let Go and Let God.” Meaning that we should trust in God for the problems of life. A church sign once said, “If you don’t like the outlook then try the up look.” I always liked that one. The idea is the same. It reminds us to consider God when it comes to the nature of life and life’s problems.
How are we supposed to live as Christians in the midst of this old world? In this time of the year, our young people are going to be graduating from High School and colleges. They are setting out into the world in one way or another. Along with that transition is always the question for the Christian, “What does it mean to live as a Christian in our world today?”
Our text Jesus prays for his disciples, in verse 11: “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world…” It will be up to his disciples on their own to confront the questions of life, some of which they had not yet encountered while Jesus was physically with them. At this point, we may wonder how they are going to succeed. Will they be able to determine the direction God would want them to take, or are they likely to become overwhelmed by the world around them? Will they understand and keep the faith or not? Really it is the same question that belongs to every generation and to us. Where do we stand when we stand amidst our world?
In this prayer, Jesus also reveals to us truths about who he is, who we are, and the significance of how our identity affects our relationship with the world around us.
Who Jesus Is
First, the text reminds us about who Jesus is. Jesus makes it clear that he is from God and is going back to God. He defines his person as being one with the Father, and sharing in ownership and concern for those who belong to God. Jesus also identifies himself in this passage as the conduit for God’s truth. What was made known to Jesus concerning the truths of God he has made known to his disciples.
What we encounter in this text is a view of Jesus bringing an unparalleled and absolute truth about who God is. This text is right up there with the passage in which Jesus declares that he is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one shall come to the Father except through him. Not surprisingly, that text is also out of John’s gospel.
My daughter once had a conversation with someone she knew. This young man explained to her that he had created his own religion taking a few thoughts from here and there. He described himself as a pantheist. He believes that God is literally within every bit of creation –trees, insects, chairs, and tables. Everything is God. Now in our country we believe in the freedom of religion. People have the right to believe in different things, but the Christian must realize that the Bible does not establish multiple pathways to eternal life. Our witness is that in Christ God revealed that there is but one way and one truth. As you venture out into this world with its varied notions of truth and subjective examples of morality, we must hold on to the understanding that Jesus declared in several places that he is the truth of God. Acts 4:12 states, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the only way to God and salvation.
Now you may ask if this is so then, What about everyone else? My response to that question is simply, that such is not mine to judge. That is God’s place. No one can judge another’s life or faith, but a Christian is called to witness to the truth that has been given to us. We know God through our faith in Jesus alone. We need not add to it or take anything from it.
Who We Are
Secondly, in Christ is our identity before God. Jesus declares in these verses that we are God’s from the beginning, and we are given to Christ. Verse 10 says, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.” Here is the unity between the Father and the Son, and we ourselves, and we glorify God in our faith giving witnessing that God’s love has been made known to all in Christ.
In verse 17 Jesus prays “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to make holy or to set apart. Jesus is praying that those who believe in him should be brought closer to God, made worthy to be in God’s presence, or become a special people before God because of the truth of God found within him. What is truth? God’s word is truth. What is God’s word? Ultimately, God’s word is in the beginning that created all things. God’s word is Christ. In the beginning of John’s Gospel we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”
You see it is this overwhelming understanding of who Jesus is that brings about our own identity of who we are before God. We become a people set apart for God, because of Christ. We become the object of God’s love within this confusing world. We become the means by which God desires for the message of his presence, love, and salvation to touch every life and every issue within our world.
In Christ we are God’s new creation, called to share all that God is doing. This is who we are.
Who are we to be in the World
Now what happens to our understanding of life and the way we live if we first realize who we are in Christ? I think this understanding should cause us to live in such a way that we try to acknowledge God and bring others to Christ.
In the many questions that we discover in living, whether the issue at hand is financial, relational, questions of fidelity and faithfulness, sobriety, morality, or issues of living or even dying. What of our decisions declare to others most clearly the Lordship of Christ within our lives? If you know who Jesus is and who you are in Christ, it will affect how you answer questions of life.
And finally, and briefly, Jesus warns us that as we are sent into the world, and yet not belonging to the world, (because you have been set apart by God) the world is going to hate you.
Those who are not of Christ will not honor the truth that declares salvation through Christ alone, the Lordship of Christ, and the preeminence of God’s rule within even this world. A person may find themselves ridiculed for being narrow minded or intolerant.
When Jesus came, he drew a line in the sand, and either a person is with Christ or standing on the others side against Christ. Now God is loving, patient, and kind, but frustratingly, God really did not leave any middle ground.
So, as we venture out into our world, we indeed must decide where we stand. Whom or what we love. What we will do, and what type of a person we will become.
When you confront the world, take God with you. Amen.