PROSPECTUS FOR THE PRAYING PERSON, PART 6: John 14:8-26; Holy Community

Vs. 20 “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

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re·al·ize transitive verb \ˈrē-ə-ˌlīz\ become fully aware of (something) as a fact; understand clearly.

Have you ever woken from a dream only to gradually realize your dream was not real? What had seemed so vivid and logical now no longer makes sense? You might even laugh at the crazy incongruity of the events of the dream as you begin to compare them to your waking reality.

Little episodes like that remind us that while we are truly amazing creations, we humans are also rather frail in many ways, such as in discerning reality.  I think most of us would say, however, that we want to be aware of reality; we don’t like the idea of being self-deceived.

Jesus talks about a reality that is revealed to those who honestly seek relationship with Him. He has revealed truths of limitless power, indwelling counsel, spiritual vision, and eternal life (see previous four blog posts). Now He introduces a reality new to our experience, but not new to Him. He says we will realize that there is a holy community within the Godhead, between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; but more than that, He says we believers, disciples, praying people, are invited into that community.  He will later go on to describe it in terms of a body.  It’s like He is the head and we are all the parts (different forms, different functions) of His body. It’s an analogy to try to help us realize the kind of diverse oneness in which we were designed to partake with God.

It’s baffling really; it’s a mystery beyond comprehending. I don’t pretend to understand it. But I believe it’s true. I believe He is Truth and I’m just waking up to the reality of this truth. A wise follower of Jesus once put it very succinctly, ”Christ in you, the hope of glory”.  Christ in me?  I am awestruck.  This is hope and glory. This is the thrilling reality our culture tries to replicate with all its extreme endeavors, but cannot even remotely approach.

We previously talked about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling counsel, now we have the Father and the Son in whom we live and who live in us. This reality can get confusing if we are still thinking in terms of this material world. But it’s time to wake up. Get out of the bed of our superficial, here-and-now thinking. Shake off the mist of our sleepy, temporal mindset.  Yes, the movements of our daily living must happen: we wake to alarms, dress for our tasks, earn our living and try to live meaningful lives.  But let’s not be deceived into thinking that leaving the world a better place is all there is to life. Our purpose for living is in entering into this amazing holy community of God’s existence.

Let’s get on our knees and open ourselves to God living in us. Let’s get real.

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PROSPECTUS OF THE PRAYING PERSON Part 2: LIMITLESS POWER

 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13,14)IMGP3534

Glory. Do you see that word in the verse? I see it emblazoned across the chest of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. I see it radiating from the throne of God as flashes of rainbow-coloured brilliance. I hear Jesus’ focused intent to align every part of His being with one purpose: to glorify the Father.

Having set that picture firmly in mind, we are better able to understand this amazing promise Jesus makes to His disciples, to you and to me. He reveals a new sort of access He is making available to those of us who are His followers. He is describing that part of prayer we sometimes refer to as supplication, asking Him for something. This part intrigues me. Jesus makes a bold promise that is breathtaking in application; He is saying we have access to limitless power: “ask me for anything…and I will do it”!

Now either that was a lie, or I’ve missed something. I’ve asked for things that never materialized. You have too. Jesus is no liar, so what have we misunderstood?

I was thinking about someone else who asked Jesus for something and failed to tap into that limitless power, and it happens to be the fellow who is relating this promise.  The apostle John, here writing some 50 years after the ministry phase of Jesus’ life on earth, is featured in an earlier anecdote mentioned in a couple of the other gospels (though not his own). John and his brother James come to Jesus one day, telling Him “we want you to do for us whatever we ask”(Mark 10:35). Did they know Jesus would later use almost these very same words in His pre-death promise to them? They were asking Jesus to put them into positions of power and authority in His ultimate kingdom. They wanted in on the glory they envisioned. They imagined themselves wielding some of His limitless power. Jesus was clear in His answer: No. They couldn’t have what they asked.

So what has changed? How does Jesus now make an unrestricted promise? Well, it’s not actually unrestricted, and you’ve been wondering when I might mention the little phrase, “in my name”. Look at it. It’s in there twice. It’s also in a few other verses nearby (John 15:16 and 16:23,24, & 26). You might even find more references to it, because it is rather important.

“In my name” is Jesus’ way of describing that the pivotal nature of our requests must represent Him. They must be requests that He would ask of the Father in the same situation. They must “bring glory to the Father”.

So, yes, in a way, we have access to limitless power, but not for our glory. The limitless power is and always will be uniquely God’s domain. Yet when we submit to Him fully, mysteriously entering into this oneness with Him Jesus keeps talking about, His power works through us. His glory is magnified. I still don’t understand it. The apostle John might not have either. But rather than asking for the stars, we position ourselves better for answered prayer when we fall at His feet in awe. His glory must be primary in our thinking. Would my request bring Him glory, or is it in some way intended to bring me glory, power or ease? These questions are worth asking. I suggest we praying people carefully investigate the motives behind our wishes. Then, if His glory would be magnified by the request, take a deep breath and ask for anything.