June 1, 2003

John 17:6-19

I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I am no longer going to be visible in the world;
They'll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

Now I'm returning to you.
I'm saying these things in the world's hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn't join the worlds' ways,
Just as I didn't join the world's ways.
I'm not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil one.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy-consecrated-with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I'm consecrating myself for their sakes
So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

[The Message]


1. The issue of how we are defined is a crucial one. There are those who would limit that definition to particular passages in Scripture or a particular creedal language. There are those who would limit the definition of self to the larger group/congregation or religious tradition.

Here it is not the past or the present that defines us but the pull of truth (always partial in its revelation) and mission or purpose (imaged as GOD's Commonwealth).

2. A significant part of being consecrated is the understanding that such a state is not for one's self alone. We model our experience of being defined in relationship to GOD's presence in our life and the life of others around us and the life of the world. We model it as encouragement that others will find their own consecration in relationship to themselves, others and the world.

3. When we have modeled being consecrated we are doing more than simple self-revelation. We are also revealing GOD-with-us. There are deep issues of theosis that need revisiting in Western Christianity. Our current battles get us into propositions that my god is stronger than your god. It is at one and the same time humbling and energizing to be open to a new future and to model that openness as those consecrated (self-aware) of their having been made in the image of GODs.