Read John 17
Focus on verse 15
When I lived up north, I used to start plants in the house in spring, which I would plant outside when it got mild enough that they would not freeze. I have not done much of that since I moved to Florida since here I can just plant it outside – anytime.
One of the things I learned about starting plants indoors is that it helps to set them out in the wind and sun when they are still quite small to help them gain stalk strength. In a windless environment plants have weak stems. When such a plant encounters wind and rain for the first time, it often ends up flat on the ground. It is the blowing and bending that makes the plant strong.
In today’s reading we find what bible scholars call the high priestly prayer of Jesus. It contains Jesus’ petition to the Father for the wellbeing of those who follow Him. In this prayer He acknowledges that the world will hate those who follow Him just as they hated Him because He was not “of the world” as they were. He then says,
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (v. 15)
It would seem that Jesus understood that for us to reach the world with His love, we have to be in the world among those who, at least initially, would hate us because they would not understand where we come from. What He does ask the Father to do is to protect us from the evil one. This would be Satan, the one whose objective it is to steal, to kill and to destroy anything and anyone that is loved by the Father. According to Jesus words in this prayer, Jesus sends us into the world, just as God the Father sent Jesus into the world as ambassadors of the love of God.
God’s objective as He watches over us is not so much to shelter us from every danger, but to use the opposition we face to help us grow stronger. As He allows us to be exposed to the enemy’s advances, this “blowing and bending” causes us to gain strength and experience in the reality of spiritual warfare. The stronger we become, the more effective we will be in advancing His cause. The more effective we are in advancing His cause, the more resistance we will experience from the enemy. The more resistance we experience, the stronger we become as we learn to trust God in the midst of the battle. Perhaps there is some truth to the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger?”