If you want to open your Bible to John chapter 17, that’s where we’re going to be together today. In John chapter 17, a beautiful section of scripture. This is that last section of Jesus’ interaction with his disciples before he goes to the cross. This chapter 17 is, this is the last chapter before Jesus is taken in, and chapter 18 to this mock trial, which will lead to his crucifixion. And these final moments, they’re sacred, precious moments.
Like you think if you know the end of your days are near, you’re still lucid able to communicate, those final words that you share with the people, loved ones around you are precious, cherish moments. So this is kind of the time in life, if you know you’re spending your final moments with someone where you just want to lean in to hear what’s on their heart and cherish those final words. And that’s, these moments with Jesus, the last things that Jesus chooses to do. And the very last thing that Jesus does in John chapter 17 is he chooses to pray.
And in John chapter 17, this is the longest recorded prayer we have of Jesus. Theologians have referred to this as the high priestly prayer. I like to just dumb it down a little bit and just call it the Lord’s prayer. I realized the high priestly prayer reveres the position that Jesus has for us in being our intercessor before the father. But quite honestly, I love to refer to this as the Lord’s prayer, because I feel like we’ve incorrectly dubbed Matthew chapter six the Lord’s prayer, our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. That is not the Lord’s prayer. That is Jesus teaching his disciples to pray after his disciples asked him, “Lord, how can we pray?” That’s the disciples’ prayer.
You want to know the Lord’s prayer, this is John 17. The end of his life the last thing Jesus chooses to do with his disciples is to spend time in prayer, which elevates for us, I think the importance of prayer, but not only that, we get to see what’s on the heart of God as he prays. And if you want to learn how to pray or if you want to be a strong prayer warrior, you need to learn how to pray the heart of God. And there’s no better place to learn how to pray the heart of God than to see God’s very heart as he prays. And in John 17, that’s it. And here’s what God chooses to pray for, he chooses to pray for you.
It’s a beautiful thought to consider the last thing on Jesus’s mind before he goes to the cross it’s you, and it’s me. He prays for you and I, and it shows at the end of his life, we’re still on the heart of God. It teaches us how to really depend on the Lord as we see Jesus himself depending on the father here in prayer. And he even highlights for us really, I think when living the Christian life areas of our life we should focus on. Because when you think in this moment, okay, at the end of Jesus’s life, Jesus prays for you, we could ask the question, what specifically does he pray for you? And in seeing what Jesus prays us, it gives us and really highlights for us areas of the Christian life that we should consider important for us as we live our lives intentionally for the Lord. And so in John 17, this is what we discovered together is what Jesus prays for us.
We’re going to look in verse nine, but I’m actually going to jump ahead just a little bit. I’m going to start with verse 18, and we’re going to go all the way back to verse nine. And you’re going to see it in John 17, when Jesus starts to pray, in the very beginning of his prayer, he starts talking about himself before the Lord. He really only prays for himself in one verse, and at the beginning of John 17. And then when he gets to verse nine, he says, “I’m praying for them.” Hey, you see a transition in his prayer in verse nine, and then he does it again in verse 20.
So you really see three parts of this prayer that Jesus is praying. We’re picking up right here in the middle of Jesus’s prayer, verse nine, as it relates to us. But I want to skip ahead to verse 18, give you the first blank in your notes here. Jesus prays for us, but he prays for our mission. In John 17, verse 18 it says, “Just as you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world.” Jesus’ heart for you in this moment is thinking about the mission that he’s called you to in this world. Jesus’ desire is for you to live in this mission that Christ calls you to do.
Now when you think in terms of this word mission, we immediately often think of job that needs accomplished. But what I think is important to remember as we look at the mission that Jesus calls us on is Jesus’ mission is not about fulfilling a program. Jesus’ mission is about people. Jesus’ heart is for people. The mission that we’re on is for hearts. Jesus came on mission. It says to us in this verse that he was sent into this world, and his mission was not to just achieve a program, his mission wasn’t just simply a duty. The driving force behind his mission was the hearts of people. Jesus was after your heart. The mission that he calls us to in this world is not about accomplishing or conducting a task, that could be a part of it. But Jesus has primary interest is in the heart of people in this world, and so our mission is about hearts.
Now when you look at this word sent one, you might be wondering why in the world I’m talking about mission when it says the word sent. But in the word, in the Latin word for sin, it’s actually the word missio, which is where we get this word mission. Jesus is calling us to live on mission. All of our hearts are engaged towards mission. Let me say it like this, living on mission is written on your heart and on my heart. How do I know that? Because all of us want our lives to matter. We don’t wake up in the morning and like, you know what I’ll really want to do? I just want to blow it, and I just want to waste the time that God has given me. The gift of life, that’s what I’m looking forward to. That’s not the pursuit of our life. I don’t think that’s what brought you here this morning.
Why you’re here is because you want your life to matter. The way your life matters is to understand the purpose for which you were created, and the purpose for which you were created is found in the mission that God has designed you for. And so God has created us to be sent, or to be on mission. And so in a nutshell, what we’re saying is everyone is a missionary for the Lord. This is not a title dubbed to some. This is what it means to belong to Jesus is that you are on mission, therefore making you a missionary. Or we could say it this way, everyone is a minister for Christ.
All of us have this calling to live in the world. It’s not exclusive to some. And the mission of God’s people, the mission of the church is found in the gospel, that is the proclamation of the victory. The word gospel means good news. It’s the celebration statement of what Jesus has done for us. That Christ has pursued us, that Jesus has died for us on the cross. And he’s resurrected from the grave showing that he has been victorious, and now his people can live in that victory because Jesus promised us that we have life in him too. So we live on mission as ministers of the gospel, this proclamation of the victory for which Jesus has called us to.
I love just, and maybe another way of thinking about it, in 2 Corinthians five, 20, the apostle Paul refers to the calling of the church, not necessarily as missionary as though that that is true, but he uses this word, ambassador. The idea of an ambassador is that you represent the interest of the king. So any ambassador in this world, we send ambassadors as a country to other countries in this world, or united States will send bassers. But when an ambassador goes to another country, he doesn’t just represent necessarily the interest of the United States. He does, but his primary interest is in the agenda of the president of the United States. And we think about what it means for us to go in this world on mission as ambassadors for Christ, we represent the king, the message he desires for us to herald. The value of the church is found in the message it’s carrying. And when the church loses sight of its purpose or its mission, it’s not even worthy of the ground, that it stands on.
God calls us to live on mission. Jesus’ prayer for us is that we would live on mission. So why would we not want to live, right? This is our calling, this is what matters. You’re made for something greater than simply self. You have the cure, the solution to the soul, the healing for which God has created us, the purpose for which you were designed. The church carries that message to not be faithful to that, why would we not want to be faithful to that?
Recently, I was on a plane trip from Salt Lake City to Washington, DC. I had to go speak at a church, and there was this great idea, the place I was going purchased, my plane ticket to go to speak and I had a lot to do the day before, so they said to me, they called me and they said that we’ll just book a Red Eye for you and you can sleep on the flight there. And when you get there, then you’ll be, you’re somewhat refreshed. You need to take a little nap, you can take a nap and speak.
And I got on this flight, just so happened this flight was overbooked. And as the flight gets ready to take off, and to that point I’m popping my headphones and I’m gearing to asleep. And as a lean back to go to sleep, someone taps on my shoulder, and it’s the flight attendant. And they gave me this information, valuable information and they say, the person beside of you, who’s already asleep, they have grand mal’s seizures. If they happen to have one while we take off, we want you to buzz us to let us know. And I’m thinking, great. So that’s the most unrelaxing thing that you’re supposed to be told, right, before you go to [inaudible 00:09:48] this person could die beside of me if I don’t do my job now. And I booked this flight in order to sleep.
And I’m not kidding, three seconds into the air, guess what happens? Massive, massive seizure, and so I hit. I do my job, and I hit my button. And then the flight attendants comes over, and they check on the person and they realize that this is a serious situation. So they do what they do on planes. When there’s a serious situation they ask, is there a doctor on board? Right? Or anyone, any medical staff on board?
And just so happens there’s one doctor on board on this overbooked flight, and this doctor comes up and he has to commandeer the entire row. And they lay this person in the floor. And really, this is just a story about me complaining to get to a point, but I end up on this flight with the doctor who gets up overbooked flight. This doctor who gets up and there’s, that he takes the entire row. So that means there’s two of us needing one seat, and now only one seat available. And the lady, the person beside me is a lady. So I do the code of chivalry being a guy and I say, “You know what? You can have this flight.”
Nevermind, I got to speak in the morning, and I have to stand out the entire flight. The entire flight from midnight to 4:00 AM from here to DC, I am standing up, and that’s not the point. The point is this, to say this, the doctor became a valuable tool as an instrument to be used for the life of this person. It was a very serious situation. You can feel bad for me by the way, but a very serious situation. It was a horrible message. The next morning, when I got there, I was a little too out in the outer space for not getting enough rest, but the doctor became a valuable tool in the preservation of the life of that person.
Could you imagine you have the ability to help someone in that situation and someone asks for your help and you just choose to sit there? I’m a little tired, this is Red Eye flight, I need to sleep. Now, if someone else will do it, because you think about the preciousness of the message that you possess, I would say it’s more valuable than the doctor on that plane.
Yes, life is important, but we’re talking about eternal life. We’re talking about life forever in the message that you’ve been given, and Jesus’ interest in your life is to see the value of that message. He didn’t come haphazardly. He came and gave it all. You could know the beauty of who he is from now on all into eternity. And not just that, that message would stay with you, but be shared through you. It’s the healing of the soul. For all of eternity and on the heart of God is that that message would perpetuate. That and not just in, in the first century, in his death, but it continue in his people because they see the sacredness of what Christ is about.
Jesus prays for our mission. And not only that, Jesus also prays for unity while on mission. This is point number two, he prays for our unity while on mission. You see this, and starting in verse nine is just peppered throughout this section, verse nine and verse 12, that I ask on their behalf, this is the beginning of his prayer, right? The middle of the transition I told you Jesus prays in three parts. Verse nine, marks the second part of this prayer, “I ask on their behalf. I do not ask on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you have given me, because they are yours.”
You see this collective family God’s building here, verse 10, “And all things that are mine are yours and yours are mine, and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer going to be in the world and yet they themselves are in the world, and I’m coming to you, Holy father, keep them in your name, the name which you have given me so that they may be one just as we are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in your name, which you have given me, and I guarded them. And not one of them perished, except the son of destruction… Talking about Judas… So that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”
So you see, in all of these phrases, this collective idea of being united in Christ together, the saying it’s a team effort. When I want to think about the beauty of Alpine Bible Church, and I think the great things that God has done for through this church in our history, in my minds, the greatest things that I’ve seen accomplished here at ABC has not been done by an individual, but a team that’s worked together for the cause of Christ.
There is power in numbers, and Jesus understands this, that he doesn’t gift us to live as individuals in this world, but he calls us to be a collective unit, moving for his glory together as a team, that when the Bible often talks about you, it refers to you plural. That it’s about all of us and what God wants to do in us, and through us together.
And so Jesus, he not only prays for our mission, but he prays for the unity of our mission. In fact, if I just highlighted some of these thoughts as he goes through it he says, that of those whom you have given me because they, our are yours. I mean, just think of the sacredness of that thought that you belong to God, that you’re his. And this is not to be at any detriment to the world is if God isn’t concerned for the rest of the world, and only exclusively concerned for you as his church. We know that God loves the world. God cares about people that are lost because God pursued them.
In fact, in Matthew chapter five and verse 44, Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. In the gospel of Luke in chapter 23 and verse 34, at the end of Jesus’ life, as they’re mocking Jesus and they’re rolling dice for his clothing, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them because they know not what they do.” God’s heart is for people. And as he carries that heart for people he looks to what he cherishes, which is his church because he gave his life for the church. Nothing more special to Christ than the church.
You think about the uniqueness of that, like in your life, if you’re married and I ask you, do you love your spouse? Your answer’s going to be yes, and it would be wrong with me to conclude simply because you love your spouse in a unique way that therefore you hate the world. You love people of this world, but you recognize the uniqueness of having a spouse, what it means to cherish that relationship. And this is Jesus in these moments cherishing that relationship, and recognizing the privilege for you and for I to be able to call ourselves as belonging to the Lord, they, our are yours.
Special to God is his church. And he says in verse 10, “All things that are mine are yours.” And I love the intimacy of this thought when Jesus is reflecting on his relationship to the Father, this idea of unity is seen so much between father and son, that all that Jesus has he offers it to the father and the same to the father. This unity is built by not holding anything back, but offering all of that they are between one another. And I look at this passage and I think the same, or I ask the same thing for my own life is, is this where I am in God? If God is praying for unity for me towards him and unity among us, is what I have truly given over to God, completely?
Martin Luther from the reformation, not in the 1900, but Martin Luther, he once remarked about this verse. He said, I doubt anyone’s ever lived in human history that can fully say that this verse has been true with their lives. That all that I have, all that I have is yours.
And sometimes we do ministry at the church, I ask people a common question. When someone leads a ministry here you may have been asked this. If you have been asked this, act like this is new. If you haven’t been asked this, please know that this is not my illustration. I stole this from someone, but I hear after you repeat things a few times you can claim it as your own. So here goes my star, so this is where I offend you, okay? But this is what I ask [inaudible 00:18:01] I’ll come to people and I ask when you want to do ministry here at the church, are you a chicken or a pig? And you’re like, “I’m option C.” What’s options C? I don’t want to be a pig, that’s offensive. I don’t want to be a chicken or a pig. Is there a right answer?
I want you to know when it comes to doing ministry, there is a right answer here, are you a chicken or a pig? And you think about this illustration as it relates to ministry, I know none of you really want to walk out being a farm animal. And probably most likely if you’re vegetarian or a vegan, this is very offensive, or Jewish cause a pig’s not kosher, but are you a chicken or a pig? When you think about a chicken, a chicken comes along and lays an egg. And it’s nice when chickens lay eggs, you get eggs and chickens move on. But a pig, a pig has to give its life. In order to reap what a pig has to offer on a farm the pig gives it’s life.
And when you think about doing effective ministry for the Lord, I think those are the kinds of service the Lord seeks, all that I have is yours. When it comes to Jesus, are you a chicken or are you a pig? Do you simply just show up [inaudible 00:19:15] go? Or do you see the heart of God fully invest in you and that he has given you everything and your response back to him it’s to give all that you are to the Lord?
He goes on from there and he says, if they themselves are in the world… I love this verse 11, because Jesus is saying, look, I’m no longer going to be in the world. And the focus here was on Christ, and what he comes to accomplish is as if God’s attention now diverts from what Jesus has come to fulfill, and now he thinks about us. And now they are in the world, and my heart is for their success as they’re here in this world. And he refers to us being in this world is that we’re in the name of the father, in his name. And this means all of the authority and power that we are called to accomplish is found in the possession of God’s identity. We carry his identity in this world because we’re his ambassadors and his representation of what he desires to accomplish in this world.
And then he says, they may be one just as we are one. All that I have is yours, and that they themselves may be one as we are one. And guys, this is not talking about uniformity, right? God doesn’t, I don’t think, god doesn’t seek uniformity with us in everything. There are things the church stands for that matters. There is a belief in which we stand upon that matters, but not to the point that God looks for uniformity. Uniformity is boring. God’s made us all uniquely, given us all different gifts, but what God does desire is unity that we may be one just as he is one. And we think about the idea of walking in unity. Let me give you this illustration.
And you got to work, and you’ve got colleagues, and acquaintances that you have throughout your day. And those are important relationships. Like you got to, if you’ve got a job and you’ve got colleagues you work with and you get paid to do that job, you want to work well with your colleagues. But when it comes to the type of unity that God calls his people to, it’s more than just colleagues. God refers to you as brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. And I heard a great illustration on this last week, that the power of understanding really what brothers and sisters means, one of the best illustrations you can think of is maybe in the military. They refer to themselves as brothers in arms, or brothers and sisters in arms.
And you see this, not this kind of attitude, and not just in the military, but then the police force, and firefighters, they all have this sort of comradery about them because they see the significance of the mission that’s before them, and they know how important it is that they be successful. And in order to be successful, they’ve got to have each other’s back because they need the team to accomplish the goal. And more than just acquaintances or colleagues, like what God calls us to in this world, we fight a spiritual battle and that spiritual battle requires each other.
And we’re more than just people that show up in a crowd that kind of sit together. The Bible refers to us as brothers and sisters that have each other’s back. Like in this room this morning, right now, there are people there have to be among a crowd like this. There are people that are struggling, and God calls us to be one as he is one. To see each other, the preciousness of your life and your value in Jesus, that Jesus would give his life for you. And to understand the importance of the mission that he calls us on, that we would walk in this unity as brothers and sisters in arms for the cause of Christ.
And then he says this, as you think about that illustration, this is incredible, that not one of them perished. They go into battle for Christ, and everyone walks off that field. Not one of them perished. You think about what it means to be in his name, that authority that Jesus carries you through. Not one of them perished.
Had a great situation last week that really drove this thought home. Or yesterday, it was, that drove this home for me. Stacy went to go do something with a group of ladies yesterday, and then I had something I needed to get done and I asked her this perplexing question in my life, I said, “Well, you’re going to go do that, but how am I going to go get this done?” And she says to me, “You got to take the kids.” And I immediately without even thinking about I look back at and I was like, all of them, all of them?” Right?
And I watch how she goes about her life, and I watch the kids go with her and it’s like single fall line and they do everything. And then that you give me control and it’s like herding cats, right? I grab the kids and I’m like, I’ll take them wherever I got to go. If I get to the grocery store, I’m like the commander before we get in, everyone keep a hand on the cart, no one touch anything, no one ask me to buy anything. We’re going in, we’re going out. And that’s it. Let’s…
And I think to myself like, if I leave with four kids and I come back with three, 75% is passing in most places. Right? And when I think about the Lord in this passage, and I consider the amount of children he’s got versus what I’ve got I’m like, three forces, good. And God’s like, all of them, all of them, I’m coming home with all of them. Do you know how much you matter to me? You’re not going to be left. There’s no one left behind. Not one will perish. All of them are with me. And then he gives this great thought at the end, so that scripture would be fulfilled.
He’s highlighting for us the significance of God’s promises that we think about the importance of unity and the calling of mission, that when God gives you a promise in his word God will fulfill his promises. So that scripture would be fulfilled. He peppers these thoughts often throughout the Bible so that we remember how important just God’s word is for us, how sacred it is to us, that God accomplishes what he says. And for me, this elevates the sacredness of just reading God’s word. And when you think about religions in this world, most religions are books produced by one guy at one time. Most religions lack a history of any ancient manuscripts to validate the writings of their books to begin with, but not the Bible. Not the Bible, 66 books, over 40 authors, three continents, three languages, one theme, one theme, and a history of manuscripts to see how God’s word has been preserved and transmitted throughout the centuries, all of it fulfilled.
And Jesus says it like this when it comes to unity, here’s why, but now I am coming to you talking to the Father, and these things I speak in this world so that they may have my joy made full in themselves. Jesus’ interest is your joy, your joy. And when your soul rests in this mission, knowing that it can be completed in Christ and it makes a difference for all of eternity, the lives of people, starting with you, that God cares for you, that God pursues you, that God calls you his own. And that God puts you on a team to care for each other. And they care for you that you find in this the satisfaction and joy of living a life that matters because God has written mission on your heart because you want to live a life that matters.
Point number three, he prays against the opposition to our mission. God, prays against the opposition to our mission, which really, it deals with your identity. But in verse 14, he says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
It’s easy to get distracted when you get concerned about what other people think. And Jesus recognizes that there’s going to be a pressure from the world. Negative thoughts, negative way of reacting is a great way to get you off of the positive mission that Jesus calls you on. All these opinions about all these awful things in this world is a great way to get your focus off the mission that God calls you on.
Jesus prays for us from the distraction that can come with this, and his interest is that we remain focused on our identity in him. And the world will come at you, and I love the way he says this. He says, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them.” Let me just say it to us this way, standing for Jesus means you will stand against the things of this world, but it’s important to remember that their battle is not with you, but with the truth of who God is. And that’s what Jesus is saying to us in verse 14, “I have given them your word, and it’s your word that they really hate.” Their battle is with not you, but Christ. You’re just the messenger.
Now, I’m saying that guys, we have a tremendous tool in having the word of God, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to leverage the word to beat people up. It’s not a tool to abuse people. It’s an instrument that God’s given us to declare to people in order to see them set free in Jesus, just like we were. And it’s only by the grace of God and the love of Christ that we’ve come to a place to acknowledge that our soul needs it. And so we have opportunity to not lose focus in recognizing the importance of sharing this world where that it’s not a battle with us, but it’s a battle with the Lord. And we’re here to help people find victory in that battle by surrendering their lives to Christ.
We don’t fight people. Alpine Bible Church does not stand to fight people. Alpine Bible church exists to fight for people. And we call it a soldiers onto a battlefield, we’re after prisoners of war. And those prisoners have been captivated by the thoughts of this world and the things of Satan, and God calls us in a loving, gracious way to engage this world with the truth of who Christ is that they could be set free. He prays against the opposition.
In verse 15, he goes on and says, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” So Jesus is saying, look, if my job and your life was to simply save you as soon as you called on me, I would have removed you from this world. But God’s got a mission for you to proclaim that gospel, that freedom in this world so that people, other people can find it, too.
But I love verse 15, and this is a great prayer to think, like I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. Like if you’ve got a child that’s turning 16, it’s a great prayer, right? God, keep them safe, right? You’ve got a child going to college, Lord, please. Verse 15 becomes your memory verse, doesn’t it? You start worrying about your kids, keep them from the evil. And this is a great prayer.
I love sometimes how this translate. Well, I don’t really love it, but how this translate into cultural Christianity, we develop these strange subcultures sometimes in Christianity. Growing up in the Bible belt, I’ve seen Christians take this verse and do some weird things with it. And maybe you are even guilty of it, I could probably be guilty of this that I’m about to tease, but you ever get to that place where people are praying and you got this difficult thing come on and they’re like, Lord, Lord, just put a hedge of protection, or just give them a hedge of protection? Like all of a sudden, Jesus, you’re going to be out in this battlefield and Satan’s going to running that, just see, I’m going to take them out all and he’s going to stop. There is a hedge around [inaudible 00:30:54] like this hedge.
If you’re going to pray for someone’s protection, pick something better than a hedge. The hedge keeps nothing out, right? You want to pray for someone security? Don’t pray hedge. Prayer’s like, for whatever they make, a bulletproof vessel, I’ll pray for that. And a foot deep, like don’t just pray for hedges. Hedges, they do nothing, right? But let me read this verse, keep them from the evil. And here’s what I think is important to know, spasm on you there for a little bit. What’s important to know is that what this prayer is telling us is not necessarily that God’s going to keep us from hard things. I think God’s prayer is that we would continue to find our identity in him rather than the temptation of finding our identity in Satan, or the things of this world.
God, keep them secure. God, help them see the importance of who they are. God, help their identity to be rooted in us, the father and the son would pray, not in the things of this world. Don’t let them get sidetracked. Don’t let them get distracted. Don’t let them think it’s just about hedges. Keep them secure in me. This is Jesus’ interest because when hard things happen it’s easy to get distracted. When people give you their opinions, it becomes easy to be concerned about what they think rather than what Jesus thinks. Focus on your mission, that’s what Jesus is saying because this is what brings freedom.
What God calls us to in this world is to redeem our culture, to redeem the world. Everything created doesn’t belong to Satan. Everything created belongs to Jesus. Everything good in this world belongs to Jesus, and it’s our place in this world to show the world how to glorify God through it. It’s all Jesus’. And we have the opportunity to just help this world see how to honor God in it. And he says, they are not of this world, even as I am not of this world. Let me get the last point.
He prays for our foundation to our mission. Remember in verse 18, where we started, just as you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world? That’s the idea of mission, but I want you to see in verse 17 and 19, what this idea of mission is wrapped around because this is your foundation. He wraps this idea of mission around two thoughts of sanctification. He says, “Sanctify them in truth. Your word is truth.” And then he says in verse 19, “And for their sakes, I sanctify myself so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
When you think about verse 17, sanctify them by truth, thy word is truth, he’s sharing for us the importance of the truth of God, the foundation for our lives, because the temptation is going to be verse 14 to 16, when the world comes in, the world is going to encourage you to change the word of God in order to conform to it. But in verse 17, it’s reminding us we don’t change God’s word, but rather God’s word is what changes us. God’s word is eternally true. God’s word is intended to shape your life.
I love when I think about the importance of God’s word to think about God’s words from the very beginning in Genesis. Genesis one, God said, let there be. And life came into existence, right? God said, let there be light, and there was light. God said, let there be a world, and there was a world. God said, let there be plants on the world, and there was plans in the world. When God spoke, there was life. And God’s word is God speaking to us. And where his word is there is life. And you have opportunity to engage in the life of his word every day. And the importance of it in your life can’t be… I don’t think I overstated because over time, what we find is mission drifts and vision fades. Over time, without the reminder of who God is and the importance of him in our life, our mission in this world began to drift and our vision for things in Christ will fade.
It’s God’s word that aligns our soul and the world just tries to distract us. And not only this, he reminds us in verse 17, “I sanctify myself so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” Just tell you, God’s word is not an end in of itself. The intentions of God’s word is to lead you to Christ. It’s great to have God’s word, but not just stop at God’s word.
See, God’s word as the instrument to introduce you and guide you into the beauty of a relationship with Jesus. God’s word for us becomes a well of grace to connect to our creator and our savior, our king. The point of God’s word is to lead us to Jesus. And this is what he says in verse 19, not only are sanctified by your word, which is true. They’re sanctified in me through your truth. Coming to Jesus in relationship.
Revelation, chapter two, verse four, the church of Ephesus, God said about the church of Ephesus that they were dedicated to the word of God, but in verse four, he said this, “But then I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
What propels this mission? So that’s just simply the calling of duty, it’s the greatness of the one that we serve. It’s your love for Jesus that propels you to live this way, and the strength of that relationships that determines the urgency that you understand your mission. And so when you grow your heart for God and you grow in your love for God, you will grow in your mission for God, and your desire to see God’s community living successfully for him in unity as you move from the distractions and you cling to his word.
Just let me give you this last illustration. It got colder this week, so I thought I’d warm up your thoughts. There’s a story of two Americans that went to an island, and that I think the story is in the South Pacific. They went to an island, and they were Christians. And while they were on this island, they got to have dinner with one of the tribal chiefs. And as they’re having dinner, somewhere along the conversation, there was one of the American Christian spoke up and they were talking about living on mission. And he says, “I don’t really feel the need to live on mission for the Lord with urgency, like God wants to rescue people, he can just do it. He doesn’t really need me. I don’t find the need to really live on mission to which the tribal chief responded and said, “You should.”
He said, “A couple of years ago, there was a Christian, came from your country to my island and they taught us about Jesus, and I embraced Christ. But before I embraced Christ, I was a cannibal. And tonight, rather than you being my dinner guests, you would have just been my dinner.” The point for us is to think about the importance, the importance of the message that you carry.
What this church does in this world is sacred. It makes an eternal difference in the life of people. It’s a precious calling that God has given you, to live on mission for the joy that the Lord has provided and the relationship with him as we work together as brothers and sisters in Christ, not distracted by the things of this world, but coming to know, and walking in the beauty of who he is through his word.