Here’s one more question: How have others in your life—both Christian and non-Christian—been affected by those changes?
“Your life is not something from which you can stand aside and consider what it would have been like had you had a different one,” Dallas Willard says in The Divine Conspiracy. “You are not separate from your life, and in that life you must find the goodness of God.”
Jesus wants our faith to be woven more deeply into every part of our lives. In this way we can grow deeper in our faith. We can encourage other Christians by sharing how God has been faithful as we’ve obeyed him. And those who see our faith lived out might desire to have a relationship with Jesus as well. If anyone doubts that Jesus wants our faith to intersect with every part of our lives, let’s put those doubts to rest right now. We’re going to explore a prayer that Jesus himself prayed—and prayed specifically for us:
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:9-26, NIV).
• What does Jesus pray for in this passage? How have you seen this prayer play out in your own life? Give examples.
• What examples have you seen in the lives of others that have prompted you to think, “I wish I could live out my faith out that way”?
• What do you think God might want to do with that desire?
The phrase “you’re so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good” has become popular, because there is some truth to it. We’ve probably met people who embody it. But I think a bigger truth, and the remedy to our “no earthly good”-ness, is expressed by N.T. Wright: “The way to be truly of use on this earth is to be genuinely heavenly minded—and to live as one of the places where, and the means by which, heaven and earth overlap.” So let’s consider further how we can be both heavenly minded and of some earthly good, while we’re still here to do both:
• What are some ways you’ve discovered you can let your faith shine that you weren’t aware of, or didn’t realize you’ve already been doing?
• Who do you see as your “mission field” right now (whether that’s one person or a specific group)? Put another way: Who has God given you a heart for right now?
• What are you doing about it—or what can you do? Who can help you take the next steps?
If you’ve just thought of someone God’s truly given you a heart for, you already have your assignment. If you really don’t know where God wants to take you next, that’s OK. Talk with God about it. God wants our honesty, but He also wants us to move forward. And allow me to pray for you from here as well:
Lord, we ask that you don’t take us out of this world, but we do ask that You protect us from the evil one as we go out into the world. You call us Yours, and because of that, we don’t belong to this world anymore. Thank You again for that truth. Make us holy by Your truth, and teach it to us more and more so we too can become holy. Just as You sent Jesus into the world, You send us. Help us to appreciate the awesome privilege—and responsibility—that truly is.
And just as Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for us, help us to sacrifice what we want for the sake of what others need—You. Help us, as your church, to be one in you, so that the world will see and believe You came for them, too, and that they will come to believe that You love them as much as You love us. Help us to remember how much You love each person you’ve created, and form us more and more into the people You want us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.