Dispatch One Hundred Sixty-Seven

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Thirty-Seventh Bundle
Tags: , , , ,

JOHN 17:6-19

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Early Christians were “resident aliens” in the Roman world of their day. In the opening decades they were known as “followers of the way,” the gospel-way of life as proclaimed and embodied by Jesus. As far as appearances go, these Christians didn’t necessarily look any different from your average Greek, Roman, or Jew. And they shared with everyone else many of the basic needs for security and success in this world.

The difference came in the matter of significance, where life’s ultimate value and meaning cohere and find their ultimate reference. For the rest of the world (we’re obviously speaking in generalities – a dangerous thing to do) the ultimate reference of life’s significance was (and still is) in the authority of the tribe or state. Fashion – what all the others are thinking and doing and wanting and wearing – dictated one’s priorities and set the standard for “the good life.”

Under the influence of the gospel of Jesus, and with his spirit inhabiting their hearts and community, the Christians detached their devotion from the power of fashion and transferred their loyalty to a “higher power.” As their energizing ideal, the kingdom of God provided them with new priorities, and with new values to support those priorities. And because they refused to simply step in line and turn the gears of politics, economics, and religion-as-usual, the world could not control them.

As it had hated the good news of Jesus – liberty for the captives, sight for the blind, hope for the poor – when he had proclaimed it, the world now hates his disciples who courageously carry on in his name.

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