Jesus said, ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’
Jesus said: As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
In recent times no one has travelled very far. Holidays, business trips, family visits and many other causes for travel have been curtailed. And yet Jesus’ sending out of his followers has not been put on hold. Jesus came into the world to preach a new and exciting message. In his turn he then sent us out into the same world to continue his work, to further his mission. As we have become acclimatised to the restrictions of the last year many of us have become increasingly inward looking. But, Jesus’ commission to share his new and exciting message has not gone away, it has not been postponed or cancelled by the Covid virus.
To be an apostle, a messenger of Christ, demands commitment, determination and imagination. The disciple who accepts Christ’s commission into apostleship needs to be ready to search for the ways he or she is being called to follow. It is easy for us to claim that we are disciples of Christ as we sit back and wait for some miraculous message to drop into our spiritual inboxes, but that is not how it works. To turn our discipleship into effective apostleship demands that we are proactive. We are called to look for the doors that might be opened and not just wait to be gently led down the paths we believe we should be following. The question that confronts us today is how have we, and how are we, using our imaginations and our determination to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
There has been much talk of on-line prayer and worship over the last year; there has also been much talk of such spiritual engagement on this level being inadequate and ‘unreal’. Other initiatives have been taken in order that the message of God’s love and peace might be shared with everyone, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Sadly, many of those have also been greeted with scepticism and scorn. Much that has been achieved has been derided because it does not fit the ‘old’ model of Christian engagement with the world. Endless barriers have been erected to justify inactivity and disaffection. Then, to make matters worse, those who have tried to share the Good News have been criticised; criticised for following Jesus’ call!
Jesus spoke of the troubled times every person of faith would have to endure in the course of their earthly lives. Those troubled times come in many shapes and guises. Jesus’ message also offered us the strength to continue his mission, no matter what. Today we should be praying not for a return to our own self-serving ‘normality’ but for God to inspire us to step out of our spiritual comfort blankets and tell all the world of Jesus.