Jesus says in his prayer: They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. But too often I find in my own life, I act like I am of the world. There are times when if I were to be convicted of being a Christian, it would be hard to find the evidence needed to make the conviction stick. I am sure you can think of countless examples of the same in your life. So how is it that God expects us to go out into the world and make a difference?The answer is the same now as it was when Jesus first spoke this prayer. God does not send us out alone, or under only our own power. Jesus prays these words which we need to have seared in our minds: 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.
What is Jesus asking when he asks that we would be sanctified? It means that we would be set apart by God for a purpose. That God would make us holy for a holy mission. And we are. God makes us Holy through the Holy Spirit’s activity in our life in Word and Sacrament. The Holy Spirit points us to the truth, that Christ died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, and that he is always present and active in our lives. We being ready to share the love of Christ isn’t about us or what we can do. It’s all about God, and what He can do through you!
Christ changes you, and who you are, and how your story will end. And he then uses you, SANCTIFIES you, to be his agent of change to the world around you. Our mission is to continue on in the work that Jesus started. (Oh is that all!). I know it sounds like a huge task, and it is. It sounds like too much for us, and it is. But it’s not too big for God. It’s not too big for the cross. It’s not too big for the empty tomb. It’s not too big for those who have been redeemed in Christ’s blood. Often times, this fighting hatred with love takes some very simple forms. We fight with love in the little gestures of concern we share with our friends and co-workers. We fight this battle in love when we listen to those who are hurting, when we share our faith, when we serve others. We are God’s and he will use and continues to use us.
I know how often I have failed in my life, how often I have sinned, how often I have fallen short of my high calling to be a follower of Christ. So often I am not the strong helper in the picture, but I am sick, and weak, and helpless. And in this picture I also see how my Heavenly Father holds me, and heals me. I see the love of God who knows my weakness and yet still dies for my sins, and rises from the dead to give me eternal hope. I see the love of my God who will never let go of me, even in the darkest moments of my life.
It is God who loves us even at our worst. And it is this grace of God that strengthens us to do the best of things at the worst of times. Because of the cross we are not of the world, but while we are in it, we have a job to do. To be the picture of the love of God that shines above the hatred of the world. It’s what Jesus meant when he said:
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019