Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Glorious Joy In Christ

John had a unique relationship with Jesus. Scholars tell us that John was the youngest of the disciples and that he and Jesus bonded in ways that were more like brothers than any of the other disciples. John wrote some letters that reveal this same love, and as we read his recollection of the time he spent with Jesus, we can't help but be moved by the truth that a walk with Christ is the most intimate walk we can ever have. Scripture tells us that as John stood at the foot of the cross looking up at the dying Savior, Jesus called upon him to look after Mary. In his own grief, he now had a job to do. A monumental undertaking. Jesus moved him from "little brother" to "provider" with just a few words. John never left Jesus during the entire ordeal. He stayed with him and watched as Jesus was ridiculed, beaten, and left to die. Later he returned to the tomb in anticipation and learned with what must have been intense enthusiasm that Jesus was indeed alive. John devoted the rest of his life to helping others see that we all can have close fellowship with Jesus. He doesn't have to stay at arms length. By no coincidence, John is the one the Christ revealed Himself to on the island of Patmos to give the people of his day and all of us today one word of encouragement: Jesus never fails. No matter what the world throws our way, Jesus never fails. No matter how our hearts may break, Jesus never fails. No matter what the doctors tell us, Jesus never fails. The Lord of all creation allowed John to see that the end is really the beginning, and the new heaven and new earth are glorious! That's right. Glorious! Full of the glory of God, and in His presence there is fullness of joy. Glorious Joy.

What was it about John that made him the one Jesus chose to look after Mary and to compel us to pursue intimacy with Christ with reckless abandon? Was he more special than others? Was he more gifted? Was he better looking, stronger, smarter, richer, or any of the traits we highlight as clear markers for success? Ironically, but not accidentally, scripture doesn't tell us about these traits in John. Instead, scripture simply tells us that Jesus gave him a role, a purpose, a reason to exist. Jesus gave him all of the qualifications that he needed.

We are more like John than we might realize. At least, that's what Paul tells us in Colossians 1. In Colossians we learn that we are qualified by Christ to be Kingdom people. We are not more special, more gifted, better looking, stronger, smarter, richer, or any of those other traits. We are simply qualified.

In May Daniel graduated from high school and now has started college. Caroline graduated from Middle School and will soon begin high school. David finished second grade and will soon begin his first experience with being schooled at home. Each of these transitions carry new responsibilities and roles. What does it take to be successful in college, in high school, or in home based education? Are they ready? Ready or not, the time is upon us. What about us as parents? Are we really qualified to be parents of a college freshman, a ninth grade daughter, and a third grade home schooled son? John wrote me a letter, and in that letter he told me that Jesus came so that we - all of us - could have fellowship with Him. The way I see it is that if the chief goal in life is intimacy with Christ and if He is the One who will be ruling and reigning throughout eternity bringing glorious joy to His new creation, life really isn't up to me. It's up to Him. I just have to lay down my self and surrender completely to Him. He fills eternity with His presence so I intend to remain in Christ. Paul's letter to Colossae tells me that Christ has qualified Daniel, Caroline, David; us as parents; all of us who are in Christ.

John's relationship was unique, but it doesn't have to be. We can all have intimacy with Christ. Thanks for the reminder from an old letter that is still as living and active today as it ever was. Bring on the glorious joy.

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