Part 3 – The Prayer of Jesus: Barbed Wire Churches Create Barbed Wire Disciples
May 31, 2015 (Trinity Sunday) is probably not the best day to use words or phrases like “my church” or refer to “my congregation/people,” or use the word “ownership” in any sense related to God’s people or God’s church. In fact if we would follow Jesus’ lead in his prayer in John 17:9-12, we would see immediately in verse nine that Jesus clearly states “they belong to you (i.e., God).”
Trinity Sunday is celebrated the first Sunday after Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost the believers were meeting together as they witnessed the Holy Spirit coming (Acts 2:1-4) following Jesus’ ascension. The New Testament Church is birthed and the evidence is the undeniable indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each believer. Trinity Sunday is a perfect time to continue in this blog series of The Prayer of Jesus as these next few verses begin to speak into the ONENESS that represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold (John 17:9-12).”
As Jesus prays for the “Holy” Father to protect his disciples, we once again see how much Jesus loves them in his concern over physically leaving them. Those of us who have children and have dropped them off at college or their first day of preschool can relate. For most of us, including me, it was really hard to leave them even though I understood they were on loan to me from God. If I had the opportunity to view my sons through mirrored glass in college the way I did in preschool, I would do it – I’m not kidding (only as a measure of protection of course). Yes, I would probably be labeled an “over-protective mother,” but I trust God knowing these amazing gifts really belong to Him and He loves them even more than I do so I must not smother their growth by fencing them in.
I can only imagine the emotion of Jesus in this prayer of protection for the disciples he loved. It was very intentional. He understood evil. He died for the sin caused from it so that we could be saved. He doesn’t refrain from indicting Judas (although he doesn’t use his name) in referring to the evil nature that they will face in the world. He’s not praying that believers would be fenced off from other believers, but that they would remain ONE to accomplish the mission he gave them as they faced the evil in the world. What has happened? Would we really place our newborn children in barbed wire playpens?
As I was taking a walk on our first staff retreat over the weekend, I noticed this barbed wire fence. I looked around and didn’t see any animals. If there had been animals, from experience on my grandparent’s farm, I would have guessed that the fence was erected to keep these animals in. “My” conclusion then is that the fence had been established to keep predators off this person’s property or to establish a marked division of land ownership. Perhaps the owner didn’t believe in the power of prayer or that God would protect his/her property. While we may not always agree on the interpretation of every verse in the Bible, I really don’t believe it’s correct theology to erect barbed wire fences to keep “our people” in or to keep other believers out. I think it’s more likely in the context of this prayer of ONENESS and PROTECTION, it would make more sense to take down any barbed-wire fences we have built among the churches so that we don’t create barbed wire disciples with a barbed wire message who represent the opposite character of Jesus.
I love the church, but I have been pricked or shall I say stabbed by barbed wire churches; and, I believe more than it hurts me, it scratches the heck out of our witness to the world and the ONENESS Jesus prayed for. Who wants to be a part of any organization that puts up the barbed wire fence of hate? God help us please to get this right. Please protect us from letting the evil of the world become the barbed wire practice of the church.
As we approach Trinity Sunday, my prayer is that we think seriously about any barbed wire fence theology we have put in place, make a course correction in removing it, and be the church God has called us to be … ONE AS HE IS ONE! In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!