Finished on Monday, May 31, 2010, Memorial Day.
Andy Rooney did a Memorial Day piece for 60 Minutes last night. He closed this way:
I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way - some new religion maybe - that takes war out of our lives. That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.
It’s a good thought, but getting everyone in the world to subscribe to that “new way” or “new religion” isn’t likely to happen.
Yet it is interesting that Andy suggests the need for a “new religion” – implying that all the “old” religions aren’t working. As Christians, we can’t proclaim that if everyone in the world were Christian, there would be no war. History would laugh at such a statement. And when we look at the little interpersonal wars within families and marriages, Christians don’t seem to look any more peaceful than the rest of the world.
This is serious for us Christians. We claim to believe in not just any god, but GOD! We claim that God lived among us as the human Jesus. He landed on earth, with the proclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
If all that has any meaning, then shouldn’t Jesus’ followers stand out as being peaceful?
I would like to propose that there is a prayer that Jesus guarantees he will answer, and in that answer we, as his followers, can contribute to peace in our families, in our neighborhoods, and even in our world.
Broken relationships are the source of all the problems of humanity.
Jesus gives an astounding promise in John 14:
(13) And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus doesn’t give himself an out. He doesn’t say, “I will answer your prayer, and the answer might be ‘No’”. He doesn’t say, “You can ask, but it might not be my will to give you an affirmative answer.” He says, “I will do it.”
The process begins with understanding the word, name. Below are two devices and their possible names.
Which do you think I used to write this column? Obviously the one on the right. The names on the right strongly suggest that this device is the best choice for communicating by electronic mail.
The names are what the device is and what it does.
In Bible language, name means “Who one is and what one does.”
When we pray in Jesus’ name, we pray acknowledging that we are participating in who he is and what he does.
Like the devices above, Jesus has many names, and each suggests something that he does. But to keep this discussion focused, I will choose one name – Savior. What does Jesus do as Savior? "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19: 10)
In one sense, Jesus has already saved you in that he died for you. For everyone. Past, present, future. Whether they know it or not. All sins are forgiven – a blanket pardon. Jesus has done his part. He did his part without our asking. We may pray for forgiveness, but that just acknowledges our need for forgiveness. You can’t possibly pray long enough, correct enough, hard enough, to get God to forgive your sins. You’ve been pardoned – we’ve been given a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. It’s a done deal.
With our “get-out-of-jail-free” card, we can live is if we are still in jail – or we can surrender to the new world that Jesus presents to us.
If we surrender to that new world, what do we see?
We see that everyone else has been pardoned, too. But most are choosing to live as if they are still in jail – they are still living the corrupted relationships that would put them in jail if God were really fair. But remember, God is not fair – he has pardoned everyone by grace, which is undeserved favor.
We who are aware of this new world, also see Jesus, who is God and who asks us to participate with him in what he does. In other words, help people see the reality of God's grace and love for them, and we help them live in that reality.
We also see many who see this new world more out-of-focus than we do. And we see many who see this new world clearer than we do. And so there is much opportunity to help and be helped by one another.
We, who are aware of this new world, need to see every relationship event as an encounter with another person or persons in Jesus’ name. Every relationship event! Every face-to-face meeting, every letter, every phone call, every e-mail, every greeting card sent, every business transaction, every book written, every song sung, every tweet, every face-book entry, every word published on the web, every sexual encounter, every promise uttered…
“A tall order”, you say? Yes. But there is hope in that same 14th chapter of John: "(16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— …. (18) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
Jesus asks us to relate with other people in his name – with an awareness of what Jesus has done for them and what he is doing in their life through us in a particular relationship event.
In every relationship event, we pray to relate to another person or person in Jesus name. We pray that we will help them believe that they have been pardoned and that they are loved of God with an unworldly love. We pray that we will help them bring the new world into clearer focus.
We pray that we will do God’s best effort. Remember that many still want the jail life. And it may take many relationship events before they will see that they are really out of jail. And, as far as we can tell from scripture, some will never surrender to the new reality.
You want some words for this prayer? A friend of mine has used this prayer before a significant relationship event: “Please don’t let me screw this up.” Yes, it’s sort of a joke – but it’s a prayer in Jesus’ name. And Jesus says, “I will do it.”
Am I really asking that you pray such a prayer before every relationship event? Well, no I don’t verbalize a prayer every time I honk my car horn or hold the door open for someone. But, if we really believe in being a part of who Jesus is and what he does and that all people are blessed by what Jesus did on the cross, then we will have the attitude to always summon up such a prayer in the really critical life-altering relationship events. We never know for sure when a casual interaction will be a life-altering event.
We will not always have peaceful responses - going to the cross was not a peaceful event for Jesus either. But we can have the assurance that we had God’s help in interacting with another child of God in Jesus’ name. “I will do it.”
This was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 emphasis mine)