Transformation Is More Than an ObligationDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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.
We come now to the end of the week of readings and ask ourselves, what is a common thread that ties them all together? In our first reading from Acts 1, we see two followers of Jesus whose lives exhibited a loyalty to the Jesus movement, which made them both viable candidates for leadership. In our second reading from Psalm 1, David poetically describes how those faithful to God’s covenant are like strong trees that bear fruit as evidence of their rooted lives in the Lord. In the 1 John passage, we are drawn to the nature of eternal life as something far greater than infinite existence but rather a deep quality of life that is steeped in the very nature of God and exudes from the believer in Jesus. And in our final reading from the Gospel of John, we are in the midst of Jesus’ intimate pastoral prayer acknowledging that those who love the Lord are different from the world around them but nonetheless called to be in the world for the sake of the gospel.
One thread that emerges is that God’s people cannot help but exhibit the kingdom of God to the world around them. It isn’t just moral obligation: Christians seek to live by a code that separates them from those who do not. Just as important and perhaps more so, we exhibit the kingdom of God as a quality of mercy, a river of redemptive love, flowing naturally from followers of Jesus into the world around. It is as if Christians, simply by loving the Lord and being loved by the Lord, begin to paint an otherwise gray, dreary world with color and beauty, bringing out the distinct form of things as they were originally meant to be. We are the paintbrush of God who desires to bring back the restored wonder of everything around us, and the Almighty’s palette is bespeckled with the brilliant colors of grace, forgiveness, social justice, and redemption.
In the believer’s life, a household is touched and changed, wounds are healed, pain gives way to peace, and joy fills its nooks and crannies. But it doesn’t stop there. The believer’s life is a swiftly flowing current of God’s Spirit, flowing out, touching neighborhoods and communities, a world giving way to the wonders of God.
God can take your craggy life, weather-beaten by horrific storms, and bring a peace and serenity you’ve never known. Captivated by his presence in your life, thoroughly given over to this God of love who seeks to fill you with a goodness that recreates you, how can you then not be different?
You know those church-led mission trips—sending people to places that need help: a new roof on an orphanage, medical supplies to a remote village, restocking a food pantry, or holding church in a desperate community?
What if every day was your personal mission trip? How would your world then be different?
I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. 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.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: If you thought of your daily life as living in a mission field, how would your life be different? What do you think could be your personal “mission field”? In what way is God calling you to exhibit the kingdom of God in your relationships and workplace?
PRAYER: As your mission was to save, rescue, and redeem us from sin and death, so brand upon our hearts by the fire of your Spirit the same—to be your agents of restoration in a world severely broken, frayed, and in despair (as we were). Amen.
P. S. from Marcus Goodyear, acting Editor-in-Chief: Dave Peterson is on vacation for two weeks, and I have asked George Cladis to fill in for him. George is a wonderful pastor who has worked with The High Calling for over a decade, contributing regularly to our sermon notes series and even serving on our board of advisors several years ago. We know you'll enjoy his insights into Scripture this week.