Armed with Prayer

I CHOSE CHRIST AS MY PRAYER PARTNER

Jesus said, “No one comes to the father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). “And I will do what ever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:13-14).  How do I connect with Jesus as my partner that takes my requests to God?  I have to be in a good relationship with the Son in order to get a hearing with his Father who also is our Father (Jn. 20:17).  To gain access to God, we must come through Christ Jesus (Ro. 5:11-2).  It therefore becomes the most important choice I have to make.

Like the disciple Judas, not the traitor, I too struggled with such a relationship and Jesus offered this answer.  “If anyone loves me, he will live by my teaching.   My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not follow my teaching.  These words of promise you hear are not mine; they come from the father who sent me.  All these I have said while I am with you.  But the Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will sent in my name, will teach you all things and will help you remember everything I have taught you” (Jn. 14:15-26).  Reading Jesus’ promise left me stunned.  He was assuring his followers that they would not only have one Companion but three partners: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It blows my mind how the three most powerful forces in the universe can live with me and in me?  What kind a me should I be?

The first thing Jesus is looking for in me is love.  This love has to do with him and with his teaching.  He and his teaching are inseparable.  At the same time, they are not his but the Father’s.  This then makes Jesus and the Father also inseparable.  And if this is complicated then their union with little me is incomprehensible.  How can I a little me please such an unreachable divine and supreme Hierarchy?  Jesus insisted that loving him or his teaching does bridge that chasm.  To love him is the same as to love God and the neighbor as we do ourselves.  What am I to be like in love?  I found some help in these words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21).  It is not a will suitable for heaven only but also for us on earth.  “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33).

The second thing is what exactly is the will of God or his kingdom?  What precisely did Jesus do and teach?  Beside the divine attributes we assign to Jesus, who was He?  John the Baptist had one of his followers ask Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mt. 11:3).  Jesus’ answer was, “Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead live again, and the message of hope reaches the poor.  Blessed is the person who does not lose his way because of me” (Mt. 11:4-6).  Jesus identified himself with the least in this world that needed help.  “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt. 25:40).  Jesus had come to bring the disfranchised people back to God.  The religious and political leaders had usurped religion for their purpose.  They replaced God’s laws with their own traditions (Mt. 15:2-6).  Three things in particular they withheld from the people: justice, mercy and faith (Mt. 23:23).  These were and still are the basic ingredients of love.  In Jesus eyes, the leaders were the sinners, in fact Satan’s children (Jn. 8:42-47).  The people were the lost sheep of Israel (Mt. 10:6). “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven are my brother, and sister and mother” (Mt. 12:46-50).

The partnership with Christ and God is similar to a marriage and the Ten Commandments are the marriage vows.  God was like a jealous husband (Ex. 20:4-6) and Israel like an unfaithful wife.  God divorced her and took another people to be His people (Hos. 2).  The entire history of Israel was a falling away from God’s Laws and a return to it.  Jesus’ primary mission was, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, even if heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest dot or letter shall be omitted from the law until everything has been fulfilled” (Mt. 5:17-18).  Just how serious was Jesus about the Law and what could it accomplish for us?  A likeable rich young man came to Jesus and wanted to know how he could become a member of the kingdom or eternal life.  Jesus’ answer was, “You know the commandment: ‘Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat, honor your parents.’” The young man interrupted and said, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” It was an impressive confession but not entirely true.  Jesus asked him to part with his wealth and become a member of his family and the young man walked away (Mk. 10:17-22).  His love for mammon was greater than his love for God and the poor (Lk. 16:13).  Our earthly goods have a great impact on our relationship with God and each other.

We do want to partner with God through Christ but for our convenience.  We have a tendency to interpret the law or the marriage vows to suit us.  A teacher of the law tested Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus responded with a question, “How do you interpret the law?”  He asserted his love for God and neighbor correctly and Jesus told the man, “Do it and you will live.”  A neighbor for this expert was a select person or group and not some unfortunate victim.  This interpreter of the law had a man made law that prohibited him from helping a stranger. The priest and the Levite were not allowed to help.  The Samaritan had no such restriction and could assist the victim.  The expert had to conclude that the one who was merciful loved his neighbor.  Jesus told him, “Go and do what the Samaritan did” (Lk. 10:25-37).  Another expert in the law answered correctly and was told, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mk. 12:28-34).  Did not Christ change God’s demands?  It was Christ who reasserted the marriage relationship, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no man break up!” The only way to sever our relationship in marriage or a partnership with God is with infidelity or adultery (Mt. 19:3-9). Hebrews 10:26-31 discourages me from such false perception of grace.  To break or disobey God’s Law is similar to adultery.