John 17:20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,
The word for today is paradigm, which comes from Greek paradeiknunai and means to show 2 things side by side, it means and outstandingly clear example or pattern. For example, we often speak of the 3 fold use of the law. The law as a curb, mirror and guide. As a mirror the law shows us our sins. And if that is all that a mirror did, we would never look in one, for we do not like to see our sins, for it makes us feel guilty and ashamed. We need to see our sins, for when we do, we see we cannot save ourselves, that our sins condemn us, that we need to repent, and that we should look to God not only for forgiveness, but for the power to change our lives.
If the law is a mirror, might there also be a gospel mirror – one that does not show us our sins, but one that shows us the grace of God, and our Savior? I believe there is a Gospel mirror, and that it is about as important as the mirror of the Law – but it shows us a different picture – a picture we need to see – for it reminds us who we are, not by our reason or strength, but by the grace of God, and by the grace of God, through faith – we are the children of God.
You see, I think we often forget we are the children of God, if for no other reason, than we just don’t look in the mirror – and perhaps we have trouble telling law, from gospel. Perhaps we are afraid of what we might see, and perhaps the word of God is not as familiar as it might be. Perhaps it because we need to be reminded of what a child of God is, and does, we need a clear example and pattern to follow.
What pattern? We’re looking at prayer, and we often think about it in terms of talking to God, but Jesus example begins with Jesus doing the praying, for us. It shouldn’t be a new idea, whenever we confess the creed, we confess that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, and scriptures tell us that what he is doing there, is interceding for us, that is, He is praying for us, and has been every day. It would appear that prayer begins with our listening to God, and responding to his message to us and for us. Prayer is then conversation, and God begins the conversation, he speaks to us and invites us to bring our cares to Him.
But there is more to the pattern, and listening closer we hear it – I do not pray for these only – that’s us - but also for those who believe in me through their word – that’s who we are, as children of God – we are people who bring the word to those who do not know and have not come to faith. It wasn’t just the disciples that Jesus called to be fishers of men, it wasn’t just the apostles to whom the great commission was given – nor is it just pastors who build the church – this is what all the children of God do – this is who God made them to be.
How does this happen? It can happen in many ways, but they all have one thing in common, because it happens by example, not words on a page, or stories in a book, but we are the example – people look to us hoping to see Jesus. And Jesus is praying for us, that when people look to us they will see and hear a witness to the power of the love of God which is ours in Jesus Christ.
They look to us to see an example of how God makes anyone a new creation. They look to us to see an example of how one might live by grace through faith. They look to us to see how they might be changed, and also by the power of God become a child of God. For as the scriptures say, we are his workmanship.
And that’s why we need to look in the gospel mirror, to remind ourselves of who we are in Christ, to see the new creation, to find the clean heart, to have the right spirit renewed in us, not just for ourselves; but also for all those who look to us as an example of what a child of God is.