my search to understand the bigger picture

Friday, November 18, 2011


I've been reminded many times this week to go back and read Jesus' prayer in John 17. Over and over again, I've grown to love The Message paraphrasing of such passages. Read it for yourself.

Jesus' Prayer for His Followers
1-5 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it's time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.

6-12I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world;
They'll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

13-19Now I'm returning to you.
I'm saying these things in the world's hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn't join the world's ways,
Just as I didn't join the world's ways.
I'm not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I'm consecrating myself for their sakes
So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

20-23I'm praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me.

24-26Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

One could pull out many different themes from this prayer. But one thing I've always walked away with is that on numerous occasions Jesus mentions wanting his followers to be one heart and mind, to be unified as he is with the Father.

Unity, what an amazing concept. What a beautiful thought. The likes of which would rock the world. But then, there's always that one person. You know, that individual that seems to frustrate you no matter what. It seems their time, energy, focus, and existence is focused on being a pain in the neck towards you. Sometimes people clash for seemingly no reason at all. They just rub each other the wrong way.

I've struggled with that this week. I'm sure I piss off my fair share of people. In fact, I KNOW there have been times where people have made seemingly very unfair judgments about me. I am one of those that doesn't have a naturally pleasant demeanor. I'm not angry. I just don't smile naturally. My "natural" probably has been described as "leave me alone". Many times, I'm not feeling that way. I've tried to improve that over the years. Some people are smiley. I'm the opposite. Oh, I love to have fun, laugh, play, etc. But it doesn't always show.

This week I've really struggle with some folks. I tweeted earlier in the week how frustrating it is to have people proclaim something as a problem, and yet they seem to be the biggest contributor to that problem! I want to scream "Open your eyes!" I was really torn up about this. It was eating my lunch. And then, God began to soften my heart, and as He did, I became open to something He wanted to teach/remind me.

I have my own role to play in this.

My thoughts turned to Romans 12:18. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (NIV) The more I allowed this passage to sink into my heart, the more compassion I felt towards the person I was struggling with. And I began to wonder if their proclamation of said problem was more of a cry for help than anything else.

I'm still working on how I can approach this person to discuss these issues, so it's something I'm not done working on. But the main thing I learned was to continue to try to read between the lines with people. Don't always take things at face value. It's what I would want done with myself. I don't want people to automatically assume I'm upset or angry, just because I'm not smiling. Sure, I've got responsibilities there. Open up a little. Work on my demeanor. But I want to be able to extend the same grace to others as I want them to extend to me. Pry back the surface. We are all onions, much like Shrek.

So, what does it take for Jesus' prayer in John 17 to come to pass? Well, the only things we can control are ourselves. So, it starts with me.........Romans 12:18.

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