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Sunday Message for 16 May 2021: “Become the Apostle”

Today’s passage (John 17:6-19) reveals Jesus praying for his followers who, like Jesus, are also residents of a spiritual kingdom.

We can take comfort knowing that Jesus and God are in alignment about our spiritual status. We are cared for. We are neither orphaned nor abandoned. We are comforted by the selfless manner in which Jesus continues to care for all of us. Yes, Jesus takes care of behind the scenes in ways not immediately obvious.

During his intense praying Jesus spoke about his service to God, and about how his closest followers were recipients of all that Jesus had been given.  Jesus discussed passing down teachings and spiritual privileges from God to the Son, and from the Son to his friends, and finally from his inner circle to the rest of us.

Jesus implored God to give the same care to his followers as he had received as God’s Son. This suggests that even we, generations later, can similarly expect blessings flowing like an eternal spring from God to earth. Through our awareness and desire, we can activate this spiritual flow and embrace the divine power as did Jesus and his inner-circle of apostles.

Jesus’ prayer also reveals that true God followers are not trapped in the world. In the literal sense, all who are born of humanity are of this earth. However, being both divine and human, Jesus lay astride two realms, that of the material, human universe and God’s spiritual Kingdom of Heaven. The apostles were entirely of the world yet they were also part of the Kingdom of Heaven. What does all this mean for us?

The great take-away is that we, too, are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven while also being citizens of an earthly country. Jesus prayed that his friends would be protected while they were on earth, where they were subject to worldly hazards. We are in a similar state. As followers of God, we are in the Kingdom of Heaven while still residents of a rocky earth. We also need to be strengthened against distractions and perils of daily life. In this sense, Jesus’ prayer of long ago remains valid for us over two-thousand years later.

Embrace your relation to God while you endure a harsh earthly life. You and I are disciples of God through Jesus and therefore we are also connected to God. In effect, we are God’s new generation of virtual apostles. Though we are in the world physically, we are not spiritually trapped in material existence.

Those ancient apostles whom people continue to adore as saints were in most ways no different from us. Whatever special powers or privileges have been invested in the apostles doesn’t mask the fact that they were just as fallible, just as capable of growth or error as are we. Rather than worship saints, we are best served when we take responsibility for our faith and traverse our own spiritual journeys.

The faithful today are heirs to Jesus’ promises as much as anyone in the ancient past. Take comfort knowing that Jesus cares for you, for your health and vitality. Also consider how you can pray for people who are not spiritually awakened. Many people exist in soul sleep, mouthing faith language but failing to practice what they preach.

Choose life by embracing the God of truth, the God for whom compassion (love in action) is the defining element of a healthy spirituality. Let us pray for one another as we each forge a spiritual journey under God’s care.

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