Summary: The situation in the Middle East, and our own situation - many comparisons help us better understand Christianity.
John 17:1-16: UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIANITY
During these past few weeks, it is virtually impossible to not know what is going on with the war in Iraq. Never before, in world history, have reporters had this much access to soldiers what they are doing. On TV, you’re able to see what the desert is like – you can see it live. You’re able to hear the fighting. You’re able to watch and listen to the soldiers as they do the things they do. This access you have to the war helps you understand better what is going on over there, both the good and the bad.
The Gospel lesson for this morning gives us an amazing amount of access into the mind of Jesus Christ. These verses allow us to listen to him pray, and as we listen to him pray, we’re able to better understand different things about Christianity. The who and the why and the how of Christianity are all right here, as we are allowed access to the mind of Jesus Christ.
Today is the fourth Sunday of the Lenten season. Lent, as you know, is a time in the church year when you do two things. First of all, you look deep within yourself, and whatever sins you find, you identify what they are, and seek to get rid of them. Lent is also that time when you focus your eyes of faith on Jesus Christ. You focus on his words and his work in an effort to grow closer to him than you were before.
So far in our Lenten services, as we have focused on God’s Word, we have addressed doubt, dreariness, and confusion. Today, as we focus on this portion of the book of John, it is our goal to get rid of any misunderstandings you might have about Christianity. Many Christians don’t understand the answers to three important questions regarding Christianity - who, why, and how. Today, since we have amazing access to the mind of Christ, we are going to answer those questions.
First of all, who? Who are you, as a Christian? According to the Bible, you are a foreigner living in enemy territory. When you watch the coverage of the war in Iraq, you cannot help but see that Iraq is a very hostile place for an American soldier. 50 mile per hour winds create sandstorms that make the desert unbearable. The soldiers are constantly being ambushed, facing enemy fire.
In a spiritual way, this is you – a Christian – you are a foreigner living in enemy territory. In verse 14, Jesus says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” The world has hated them, Jesus says, as he prays for his disciples. He’s not just talking about his 12 apostles. He’s talking about you. The world hates you.
The world might seem friendly. “It’s not such a bad place here,” you might say. What Jesus is talking about here, is spiritual hostility. The fact that you have faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world – the world hates that: “You’re supposed to have faith in yourself, not Christ. Jesus is one of many saviors in the world, not the only way to heaven!” The fact that you believe that you and all people are sinful, and that God forgives you for Jesus’ sake – the world hates that. “There’s no such thing as sin,” the world says. “You’re a good person. You don’t need God to forgive you! You don’t need Christ!”
The world is hostile toward Christians who truly believes in Jesus Christ. You are a foreigner living in enemy territory. Jesus describes you this way: “they (Christians) are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” You might live in this world, but that doesn’t mean that you’re of it. You may look the same. But you are different. And what makes you different is that you have different things in your life that drive you.
If you are of the world, then you are driven by four things: money, power, pleasure, and fame. “I will do anything for money,” is the theme of many TV shows today. “I will do whatever it takes to make me feel good," is the attitude that drives many people. “I want power. I want to control people.” “I want to be famous.” Money, power, pleasure, and fame.
But this isn’t you. You’re a foreigner living in enemy territory. Instead of these four things driving you, you have one thing that drives you. Verse 6: “You have given them to me and they have obeyed your Word.” Verse 8: For I gave them the words you gave me, and they accepted them.” Verse 14: “I have given them your word.” As a Christian, you are driven by the Word.