Helped, Hugged and at Home in times of social distancing
We are certainly in days when helping one another has become thankfully one of the most important things we now do. To live selfishly seems pointless. We need each other as we are enforced to stay at home. One friend said to me the other day that they couldn’t wait for social distancing to end so that they can be hugged again. Today’s reading from John chapter 14 has good news for us, v15-31. On the night of his journey to the cross he tells his disciples and us some great news.
For those who follow Jesus he has a promise (v15 ‘If you love me, keep my commands.”)
The promise is the Spirit of truth, v17.
He is a person, (v17 The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him)
Paraclete is a hard word to translate and so we have various attempts of meaning which end up being inspiring to us:
He is your helper. He helps you to live for God. He gives you the ability and the energy to do what you have to do today. It is not true that you have no one to assist you nor anyone beside you. You have the other helper. The disciples had Jesus who stilled the storm when they were afraid and who fed the crowds when they had nothing. So whatever you need today there is a helper right by your side, the Spirit of truth.
He is your advocate, (v16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever) Just as Jesus was an advocate the Spirit is also. Jesus has in mind the court of heaven where the Spirit pleads on the behalf of his followers just as an advocate on earth defends the cause in the court of law. The advocate will do what Jesus did. When you don’t know who God is or what the Bible is really saying or even when people are against you, you have an advocate who will defend you. (v26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.)
He is your Comforter. He cheers you up. After social distancing we will hug again. It doesn’t take the pain away but it does help you get through the day when you have a friend who supports you.
He is your Peace. (v27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.) A peace that remains. It doesn’t change or die because of the circumstance.
What an incredible person the Spirit is! And where is he?
He is at home in you. (v17 But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you … v23 My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.) We! Where the Spirit is so is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit at home in you! For some today sadly home is a dream. In lockdown domestic abuse has risen and there are concerns for children at risk. It is unthinkable isn’t it? There is a home which is not a house with decorations. The home of the heart. The home in you. Your sense of well-being. Right now as a follower of Jesus the fullness of God dwells in you and is at home in you!
Why is this so important? Well the last point especially shows us we do live in a dangerous world. Today people will sadly die. Many will leave their homes with some anxiety of what they are about to face.
Jesus said this:
V17 “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him … V19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” We live in a world which cannot see and doesn’t know who is living inside of you.
V30 “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me” For Jesus he could be referring to Caesar whose soldiers put Jesus on the cross. Or it could have been the high priest. It could also mean the enemy of our soul, Satan, who is behind the Caesars, the false priests and the betrayers of this world.
V31 “but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.”
Though we live in a dangerous world and though it is difficult to serve God. Jesus says the prince of this world only serves the purposes of God for it. His call to come and leave with him shows the intention of Jesus that no one was going to take his life but he would offer it to the world that the world may be saved.
So this lockdown, the social distancing and the evils of this world may produce circumstances that are dangerous to us but we are not alone. We have another who lives alongside us, at home in us, giving us a big hug today!