by Bruce Gilberd
(Based on John 14:23-29; Psalm 67; Acts 16:9-15)
What a rich vein of truths are offered us this morning in today’s three readings. It is as if the white light of God’s truth has passed through a prism and split into its many coloured components – a profusion of variety and connectedness – like a rainbow too.
In these three texts there are global and personal dimensions …
- How the nations need to know and follow God – the big picture
- How each person needs to know and follow God – the intimate picture
The Global Mission of God
The psalmist asks God to be gracious, to shine on the Hebrew people, so Israel can point the way, so God is known on all the earth and among all nations. This is what God’s call is to Israel, to be a glad vehicle of God’s presence.
Israel was called, or “chosen”, not to be privileged but to be the mission agent of God … and to bring the whole world, all nations, the light of the one true God. Israel is to serve the nations! [How has she done on that count?]
The Christian worldwide church now inherits this calling, to bring the nations to a point where, as the psalmist writes, “… they joyfully revere God”. We certainly aren’t there yet, are we. Yet, by prayer and prophetic action and loving service, we participate and work with God to make it so. We face the fact that at this present time less than 40% of the world’s over 200 nations are democracies – and many of these are deeply flawed.
Yet we will, we must, continue to pray, speak and act for equity, justice and reverence – that the nations and their leadership may know God.
The Personal Mission of God
Then, alongside the global mission, there is a great need for individuals to know God, receive his call to live for him, and be generous in love and hospitality. In Acts 16, author Luke describes an example of this: Lydia. She had her “heart opened by the Lord”, as she listened to Paul. She received what God was offering by “listening eagerly”, and offered generous hospitality.
John’s Gospel, in today’s Chapter 14 reading, then builds on heart-felt initial discipleship …
- We are to keep living in this way – the way of costly love – grow!
- We become hosts to the Lord. God makes his home in us. Amazing. He abides in us.
- The Holy Spirit, re-gifted to the church and each member every day, will keep teaching, guiding, strengthening us, and reminding us of Jesus’s words and deeds so they continue to inspire us as we face the multiple complexities of global and local hurt and dislocation:
- the warming of the planet
- the pandemics and diseases of the people on the planet
- the wars and violence and conflicts on the planet
Anchored in the limitless love of God in Christ, we sustain hope and play our part to ensure the reign of God’s love grows: globally and personally … as God works his purpose out through tragedy and triumph.
And, brothers and sisters, we are his co-workers.