“I’m fine with Jesus, but His fan club stinks.”
Although I’ve cleaned up the language in this specific instance, the sentiment is repeated on a regular basis for those we are trying to reach for Jesus. The idea is simple enough to comprehend, but drilling below the surface makes it very uncomfortable for us.
Why do so many people feel this way? Sometimes, it’s because these folks have a distorted view of Jesus. To them, Jesus is a buddy who never corrects, rebukes, or judges them. However, this isn’t the story for most of the people I’ve interacted with.
Most of the time, these statements are made because the Church is hypocritical. It’s a hard admission, but we can learn from that. We can stop and analyze our behavior to see if we’re helping or hurting their perspectives.
Jesus was praying at the table where the Last Supper had just occurred. He started this prayer in John 17. This is not the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane but a different, intimate prayer the disciples would have heard. We interacted with this material over weeks, but the Lord Jesus prayed this in one sitting. We conclude His prayer in John 17:25-26.
When we read the word “world” in John’s Gospel, it typically refers to those who do not know or those who reject Jesus. Generally, it refers to evil. The reason this matters is that it’s not a generic word. It has a meaning. The world doesn’t know Jesus or His Father.
Jesus, however, knows His Dad. All those who trust in Jesus for salvation also know the Father through our relationship with Jesus. The glory Jesus desires for us to see isn’t just a far-off future hope. It’s a right-now, present-in-my-life manifestation of God in our lives!
On this same night, at this same table, Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands” and a few verses later in verse 21, Jesus says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus was not ambiguous about what “love” means. He defined it VERY narrowly and specifically. Love is obedience to the Lord. There’s an action orientation to it.
The love of God the Father is a love proven by action. His love sent Jesus to Earth and ultimately to the cross to redeem us. Then His love raised Jesus from the dead. The love of Jesus for us resulted in the sending of the Holy Spirit, and eventually, the love of the Father and Son will result in Jesus’ return to take us home and judge the world. The love of God is a love proven in action.
Likewise, our love for Jesus is demonstrated before each other and the world. That means we will smell, talk, think, and act like Jesus—God in the flesh! We will continue His mission of making the love of God known to the world through the life of Jesus. Jesus prayed that we would be like Him to demonstrate to the world the life-changing power of Jesus.
That means the Lord uses our lives to testify to the world that Jesus saves. Jesus prays that His church will experience His love and glory, resulting in unity. This was His prayer request!
When you analyze your behavior, are you the answer to His prayer?