I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.

John 14: 18

 

Isolation, separation, and being alone are states that cause most of us concern. We don’t like to go it on our own even if we put up a front that says to the world, “I am fine, and I have it all handled.” This just isn’t really true, and its lack of sincerity comes about because God didn’t make us to travel through life as individual actors who have everything we need to live well. We were made for relationships with other people, with the rest of creation, and especially for direct engagement with God. This is how the first humans lived as they went about their days in the near perfection of the garden, and God’s desire to be in continual relationship with us is one of the great and miraculous aspects of that account of our beginnings in that He set into motion a fully fleshed out plan for both ongoing engagement with us but also for permanent restoration of the original form of relationship with all of Creation.

 

Yet, life does get in the way. Our own capacity to think, process, and analyze disrupt our peace and calm. We act badly toward others, and they act likewise toward us; so, the bonds of care and affection that once held us together are severed. There may even be a divide and conquer sort of ethos at work in the world at large that seeks to cause people to accentuate our relational pain so that we move away from others when things get challenging and we too easily abandon the person rather than entering into the hard work of processing through the hurts and seeking restoration of the relationship through honest confession and forgiveness. To add to the difficulty that many people have in coming together and staying together with others, most of us have aspects of our personalities that are simply hard for others to handle. So, we move away from those who we have been close to, and this allows room in our hearts and in our minds for this world’s ideas and concepts of love and relating to enter in and to take hold of our thinking. This is also a state of mind and of heart where we often move away from God and out of the counsel of His word of truth.

 

This is where that great and miraculous promise that God made in the garden becomes even more powerful and important. God gave us Himself in the person of Jesus, the Christ, as the final and complete means by which all people could be returned to full and undiminished relationship with God. The powers of this world attempted to disrupt and this restorative work and to destroy the means for its continuation, but they were utterly defeated in this attempt. In Jesus’ statement above we have His reiteration of God’s unending commitment to continue in close engagement with us through all of time and in all circumstances and situations. Jesus may have left this world in the flesh, but He is present in the most real sense possible in the all-knowing, all-seeing, and fully engaged manner that the Spirit dwells with and in us. As we are in Christ, we are never alone in this world. We are fed by His truth, counseled by eternal wisdom, and provided with the companionship of the Great Shepherd. Additionally, we are provided with a family of faith to join in with as we journey through life, and Christ in Spirit and in God’s Word gives to us the tools and perspective to use in working through the conflicts and the challenges of living with other people. None of us are alone in this life when we know Christ. He is with us always and in everything, and Christ desires for us to know His presence, to express its joy, and to remain in the center of His peace throughout our days.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14: 18

 

When we hear about orphans, some powerful images usually come to mind. In the world today, we don’t have to go very far for those images to have real faces and stories attached to them. We see their dazed and disoriented gazes and hear about the families that disappeared in a furious instant with such regularity that it almost seems like this sort of news is normal or routine like the recitation of the outside temperature. Yet, this is not how the world was intended to work, for it all comes about because of the predatory nature of evil and in response to a form of godlessness that is running rampant in our streets. This brutal violence is intended to crush the hope and the spirit out of people as it portrays this world as a place where God has gone away to find a quieter or a safer place to dwell. Again, the voices that speak of such a distant and disengaged God are deliberately deceptive and are wrong.

 

As He was preparing His followers for the realities of His death, Jesus clearly informed them of two fundamental aspects of the times to come. One was that as Jesus was put to death and so left them, He would send another, the Holy Spirit, who would continuously dwell with them. The other aspect of this new order that was soon to exist in creation was that even after the brutal death of the cross, Jesus was still alive. Jesus overcame the greatest power that evil could utilize for its purposes and returned to be visibly and tangibly present in the lives of these same people who had journeyed with Him for the previous days and years. This was all great and reassuring for the first disciples, but what does it do for me and how does it all apply to the victims of our world’s crushing hatred and anger?

 

Jesus did come to them, and He did not leave. He is alive and present in this world to this day. The Holy Spirit lives within each of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior, Lord, and risen king, and He is unrelentingly the victor over evil in our times. The Kingdom of God is present here and now. People who know Christ are never alone in our journeys through life; we are not orphans; rather, we are beloved children of the Great King. This all sounds good, but what does it actually mean? For me it says that even as I face the world’s death and the destruction that are screaming their taunts in my face, I can respond with the truth and the love of Christ while knowing that this is the only effective answer. In the presence of Christ I can confidently hold fast to the kingdom principle of peace in which bigger weapons and greater force of arms are never the solution to evil’s aggression. I can take in and care for the damaged, the broken, and the oppressed of this world while knowing that the opinions of others do not matter, for in so doing, I am demonstrating the care of those people’s loving and very present Father.