This has been a rough week. Unemployment numbers are high. Covid-19 infection rates are still climbing in several states and throughout much of the world. The country is embroiled with protest. I find it frightening how the protesters are called to be dominated by military force and cities spoken of as battle spaces. Amazing how the call for racial justice leads to such hostility. Where will this end as we proceed into summer? Will the protests continue? To what extent will force be used in the effort to stop the protests? This has been a rough week and what will next week bring?
The final verse has Jesus telling the disciples:
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age
These words of Jesus are comforting because we don’t want to be alone in times like this. We want God to be with us. However, what does this really mean? Often we talk of Jesus as being a companion, a buddy, someone supportive of our efforts and goals. Yet, Jesus’ promise to always be with us goes much deeper than simply being a friend or rubber-stamping our political agendas. Jesus told the disciples to go and baptize…make disciples of all nations…teach others to obey the things he commanded. The great challenge in this is that Jesus didn’t teach that people were to be dominated by military force or that cities are battle-spaces. The Roman Empire did this, including crucifixions. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are proof that the ways of God’s kingdom are far different. If we are to teach the ways of the kingdom which contradict “might makes right,” then we really do need him…we need him.
Jesus was leaving the disciples and they did two things, worship and doubt. A great summation of the life of faith. The life of faith includes worship which is the easy part. The life of faith that teaches a contradiction to the powers of the world, is one of worry and fear and doubt. We need Jesus with us.
As you go into another new week which looks like a continuation of the last, remember Jesus’ promise to you…he is with you always.
The nation is beginning to open up. Whether this was a wise move will be shown over the next couple months. However, the idea of getting back to some sense of normal human interaction does feel good. Yes, there are those for whom the thought of being shut in at home with nothing to do but play video games is heaven on earth. Yet even for them, human interaction is still needed. We have tried drive-by waving at family. Zoom has suddenly become an indispensable app. They help but aren’t the same as actually being with family and friends.
Jesus is continuing his farewell address to his disciples and needless to say they are anxious and fearful. He promised them that they would not be abandoned, orphaned. Another Counselor — the Spirit of truth — will be with them. This Counselor will be one who comes along side and continues Jesus’ relationship with them. If there was ever a time when we seek the assurance of God’s presence, these would be the days. The Counselor is more than God “hanging out” with us. The Spirit has a purpose and that is to give us the truth. The world isn’t a fan of this truth. Our political environment has left ‘truth’ on life support. The truth is that we are infinitely loved by God and that includes our enemies and political foes. The truth is Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection is the way this loving relationship is put into action.
So how do we live out this loving relationship? Well, we do the things Jesus taught us to do. We know what they involve…loving our neighbor…serving not ourselves and our personal interests but what is best for our neighbor. Jesus was correct, the world wants nothing to do with the truth of a loving God. If the world listened to the truth and followed Jesus’ commands, our current political environment would be radically transformed.
These are difficult times as we feel the loss of presence with family and friends. These days make us wonder of God’s presence with us. Yet, the message today is that you are loved and so is the rest of the world. The Spirit is along side you to keep reminding you of that reality. The way to live out this love is to show it to our neighbor so they will know that they are not alone either.