More Than Existing

Have you ever been faced with a trial of some kind, and found yourself focused on giving encouragement? Like, you know that what lies ahead for you will be taxing to the extreme, maybe even wondering how you are going to get through it in one piece while still retaining some shred of sanity. And yet, your focus at that moment is on others, and their needs.

Have you experienced that?

Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end. Watching a friend or family member, someone who you love and care for putting the needs of others before themselves. Even when they are getting ready to face a hardship you cannot walk through with them.

Have you experienced that?

I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ve been in one, if not both of those camps. I know for a fact that if you follow Jesus, you’re on the receiving end for sure. How? Because of Jesus’ own actions and words.

A lot of us are familiar with the story of Jesus in the Garden before His betrayal, all the way through His death and resurrection. But right before this John gives us an insider view of Jesus’ heart through what has come to be know as the High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17.

Not only did Jesus give Himself up in our place, prior to doing so He went before God in prayer with very specific requests on behalf of you and I. Check this out,

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

– John 17:9

As a Child of God, a true follower of Jesus, YOU were at the center of His prayer. YOUR needs in the days to come were the focus of His heart. And those needs He lays before God because He loves us!

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

– John 17:15-19

Jesus knew what He was walking into, and He knew what His followers would soon face as well, because of their devotion to Him. And while what He willingly faced far exceeded anything we ever will, He did not hesitate to bring our needs before God on our behalf.

We are on the receiving end; the receiving end of a God who’s love is so immense and gracious, He is willing to sacrifice Himself to restore us to Himself.

Are we living in reflection of this?

Do we think, speak, act in a way that is reflective of the grace and love we have been shown? Our primary calling as a follower of Jesus is to live a life that emulates Him, and through this we fulfill every other aspect of our calling. To love others, serve as He served, shine light in the dark. He did not remove us from the world, bar us from facing difficulties; He prayed for our protection, our sanctification. He prayed that we would make a difference.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

– John 17:20-21

The way we live, speak, think, it should all reflect Christ. Why? We are not only called to do so simply as followers of Jesus, but it is through this that others may come to find Him. It’s why He calls us to be the salt of the earth, light in the dark, to stand firm in our faith through the trials and temptations we face. Our life through pursuing Christ becomes a testimony to others of His love and grace.

You are probably facing social restrictions like me, with “stay-at-home” orders spreading across our country quickly. Social distancing has become a new norm should you need to venture outside your house. And more of us are spending extensive time on-line than before. Despite the changes we face, each of us have opportunities to be Jesus. The recent restrictions and changes have not lessened the need or ability for us to live a life reflective of Christ.

So what can you do? Today, tomorrow, right now? Jesus prayed for you, not simply to exist. He prayed for you to thrive and make a difference for His Kingdom.

Be salt, be light. Today.

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