“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. 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. 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. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
~ John 17:12 - 19
Have you ever read a piece of scripture and just felt absolutely hopeful? Today's text does that for me.
Jesus seems to be encapsulating his ministry to God, letting God know that these friends of his, who have been following him, are no longer the same. They are no longer a part of the world, but of something much different. Because they have been with Jesus, he has been able to protect them from a variety of things, except for one of them, which had a role that had to be played out, they are part of a very special group.
Jesus talks of how special they are, and because they are special, he speaks of them as being sanctified.
One of the things that we often forget is that we ARE different than the world, but yet, it is a fine line that each of us must walk. To balance ourselves, and to remain hopeful, especially when we just can't seem to understand why some things are the way that they are. Even Jesus asks God to protect this sanctified group from evil, noting that this would be a challenge.
It's Jesus reminding each of us that we are indeed sanctified, and that being truthful, and speaking the truth, while remaining focused on what we have been called to do is what sets us apart.
Years ago I served on a committee that helped with the licensing of clergy within my faith tradition. I always loved hearing about what it was that caused the person to respond to the call of ministry. I always reminded folks that our role was not to judge whether the person deserved to be licensed, or for that matter, had some particular gift for ministry. It was our opportunity to watch as God sanctified the person for ministry, while the person found his or her way, and how we, as fellow followers could serve with and help to affirm their journey.
Our entire journey is about hope, while being reminded that we are God's children, sanctified and called to serve a higher purpose. I love knowing that we belong to God!
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, today as I pray, may I be reminded that I am embraced and surrounded by Your love. That I shall remain hopeful in my faith, while I seek to find ways to affirm those I travel with. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.