29 Jan (evening): Glorifying Him 4. Making Him Known.
Key Text: John 17:9-19
We are in the final week of our series Glorifying Him. In this series, we have looked at the reason for your existence. You were made to glorify Him!
Your whole existence comes down to one single statement; you were made for Him. An obvious question comes up though; does that mean I must them go into full time ministry?
The simple answer is the scriptural answer; no! In fact, it was Martin Luther the 16 century Reformer who said to the nobility of Germany;
“It is pure invention that pope, bishops, priests and monks are to be called the "spiritual estate"; princes, lords, artisans, and farmers the "temporal estate." That is indeed a fine bit of lying and hypocrisy. Yet no one should be frightened by it; and for this reason -- viz., that all Christians are truly of the "spiritual estate," and there is among them no difference at all but that of office…”
Jesus doesn’t call us some of us to be spiritual and some to be just regulars; we are all called to reflect Him in all that we do.
I have argued many times that Christianity is not about making people more spiritual; it is about restoring people to true humanity which by nature is a spiritually inclined state.
We are born spiritual; the idea of God is woven into the fabric of our being; this is why we have a desperation to worship something (to find meaning in things). Some try by pursing men/women, some through power, some through money.
The problem is that these things were not the reason you were created and so trying to glean your worth from them always makes you a slave to them. As the serial dater, for example; (you know someone who jumps from one relationship to another) ask them if they are fulfilled by it? They will answer no, and if you have a candid conversation with them you would find out that they actually need these this; they are enslaved to this action or lifestyle.
I would like to suggest a personal experiment here tonight; the thing that you are most enslaved to is most likely the thing that you are trying most to gain meaning from. i.e. if you are enslaved to relationships or sex; you are desperate to find your meaning in intimacy; you hope that if I just find the right person I will finally be happy; and this idea; this ideal has in fact enslaved you.
The reality is that you were made for God! And because of that and the fallen state of the world we are made to make Him know. So, let’s talk about that tonight.
If you have your Bibles, please turn to John 17:9-19.
9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
In this passage Jesus is praying for His disciples and essentially for us 2000 years later as He finishes his prayer saying in verse 20:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
in this prayer Jesus encompasses His desire for us; which is my first point tonight: He prayed that we might…
1. Stay in the world
Jesus prays for us in verse 14; that we might not be taken out of the world; rather that we can be protected from “the evil” – in the original language.
Jesus didn’t long for us to transcend this life or escape it; he longs that we would simply be protected from evil. I would argue that it is evil in all its guises.
The term here can mean evil as a personified force; in other words the devil himself; in other words the being who opposes all the work of God; or it can mean evil in general.
Now when Jesus is praying for us to not experience evil, is he saying that if we become Christians we will not experience anything bad? In other words; that we would have these lives of happiness and bliss. No, he is praying that evil would not triumph over us. Look at verse 14; He warns them that they will be hated because of His Word.
This is the first way that we will live to make Jesus known; by living in the world and overcoming its evil.
How do I live in the world and overcome its evil? Let’s look at what evil is in a scriptural understanding.
Firstly, all that Scripture says about the topic is that the universe existed firstly in a state of goodness (Gen 1). In other words, there was a time when evil in any form did not exist. This is more important that you might first think; because this means that good and evil are not opposites; nor are they equal.
Good will triumph over evil because good is the ultimate reality. The Scriptures teaches us that evil sprung up in the heart of Satan and then came into the world through the free choice of man in the garden as well as the temptation of Eve by Satan.
So, evil exists in the world because people chose to follow their own way; it exists because of free will. Therefor now, in the world we live in evil exists in the hearts of men.
I think we live in a world more aware of that than we have ever been. The illusion of the inherit goodness of mankind has been tarnished over and over in the last few years. The interesting reality of this is now we live in a world that has convinced itself that everyone else is evil, and that we are fine.
Church it is to that world that Jesus calls us to stay! To say this clearly; we as the church don’t run away from the problems of this world; because, by grace, we see that those problems are ours just as much as they are the worlds.
We fix evil and the problems of the world not by self-will or self-delusion. We fix the evil the only way the bible prescribes, by humiliating its power on the cross.
Evil always shows its weakness through acts of power. And the cross humiliates this.
I’ll illustrate; a leader who cannot lead, will use the weak rule of fear and intimidation to lead. We see this with the despots throughout this continent. They think they are powerful, however they have shown their weakness.
The cross shows the greatest power in the universe; God in Jesus Christ; humbled himself to death for the sake of those who sent him there. So, that through that act; God could love His people again!
Love overcame hate, grace overcame sin, weakness overcame strength.
In fact; evil has its own end in its actions; which is actually a sermon on its own: but the statement he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. You reap what you sow. Evil destroys itself, it consumes itself.
So, we make him known by the fact that we live out the cross in the world we find ourselves; we allow His love to become our own; and we relate to the world in that love; we allow his grace to guide how we treat people and we allow our weakness to become His power.
Which leads me to the second point tonight:
2.Don’t’ let the world stay in you
In verse 16 Jesus reminds us that we are not of this world. And so, we must not let the world stay in us.
Well, Jesus tells us in this passage in verse 17:
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
Literally; make them holy by the truth and your word is truth.
We are made holy; we keep the world out of us; by reflecting on His truth; the Bible.
I want to unpack this;
We live in a world of shifting definitions of truth, of the validity of every idea. In a world of information; your perspective becomes the only truth.
In fact, confirmation bias will ensure that you really only find the information that justifies your preconceived ideas.
The journey to truth often is full of uncomfortable confrontations of those preconceptions showing you that your thinking; your bias was wrong. The problem with the amount of information we have is that this becomes more and more difficult as there will always be someone out there who will back your idea.
As a side note; if you find a portion of scripture saying exactly what you want it to say; be careful. Re-study it, ask others about it…
Church, we have created a world of instant gratification so if it takes longer than 30 seconds to read through we skip it.
The common internet phrase TL;DR is the reality of our society. In this kind of world, it is very difficult to discover truth, it is even harder to stand on it.
Jesus says to this world you will be made holy by THE truth, it is the Word/the Bible.
Now we simply don’t have the time to justify the validity of Scripture; however, I want to encourage you that truth, real truth is discoverable.
The Bible says you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free, and again it says; you will find me if you seek me with all of your heart.
We have to overcome our laziness, and fight against our biases and we will discover the wonder of truth that is out there.
The reality is church, the world needs people who have discovered the Truth!
And have been set free by that truth; it will take us knowing the bible, it will take us being honest with ourselves and each other.
I think that the church should be a safe place where we can ask open and honest questions about what we feel and thinks and hold that up to discover the real truth about the matter. Not opinions but the truth!
I personally believe that more than anything we make Him known when we actually know Him and His truth! Jesus said you will be my “witnesses”. So the question is, church, do we know Him? Truly?!
I would love to have this be a place where we can discover him! I would love for your small groups to be places where we can find Him.
My hope is that we would come together to experience Him together! It is here that we would live that truth out and in that we would make Him known!