“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:15-21 NKJV)
When I was about 20 years old, nothing was going my way. I was in-between schools, my grade point average was low, and I was about ready to give up. I had made some good decisions and I had made some bad decisions. But one afternoon, when I had reached a low point, I did the only thing most of us would do: I called my mama. Now, I had spent the better part of two years attempting to live my life with as little parental involvement as possible. But as I sat in front of 2 pending finals, the opportunity to graduate hanging in the balance, and my pride severely hurt, I knew it was time to call mama.
We had a great conversation. The moment I called, she knew something was up. We talked for moment and I told her I just didn’t think I could do all this. She reminded of a few important things and then she said these words, “Whit, you are strong because I am strong.” Something clicked. I shed a few tears, felt as if things were slowly being pulled back together inside, thanked her, and told her I loved her. I really COULD do this. I am strong, because my mama is strong.
In our text this morning, the disciples need to be strong because the mantle of responsibility is being passed on to them. They know the works of God throughout history and time; they have seen the work of Jesus in real-time, healing and freeing and relieving the world of both its sin and its oppression; and now the time as come where they are to carry on that miraculous work. It’s scary sounding, isn’t it!?
And to make things even more real, remember that each of us, as we enter into the role of disciples, receive this same responsibility as well! We are responsible for bearing the good news on our shoulders and delivering it to the world in order for it to be saved and transformed! It’s a daunting task and is just as serious as it sounds; a task that seems too big, too heavy, too much for us to do alone. But here’s where I want you to remember my mama’s words: you are strong, because I am strong.
Jesus told His disciples then and tells us here today that we will not bear this responsibility all on our own. As Christ promised, we are not left orphaned or alone in this endeavor. In fact, just as God went with the Hebrew people, just as Jesus walked with the disciples, so each of us now will have the Holy Spirit to uphold, comfort, counsel, help, pray for, and encourage us. Each of these words describe the very work the Spirit does within us and through us (uphold, comfort, counsel, help, pray for, and encourage). Though the mission has been given to us, we do not do it alone and we dare not do it alone. It takes Divine help in order to get Divine results and it is only God who can save the lost of this world. The trick for each of us this morning is to accept that it is YOU God has chosen to accomplish this work through. Scriptures like this one are a “call to arms,” a reminder of why we are here. But most importantly, it is a revelation that this work is not to be attempted alone nor is it ever done alone. God does His work with us and through us.
The Holy Spirit is with those AND remains in those who love God and obey His commandments. To listen to God is to honor Him and to carry out His will is to love Him. The world does not know God or God’s will because they do not love God. If they were in right–standing with God through their love for Jesus, the Holy Spirit would be an ever–helpful presence in their life. We know God because we love Jesus and it is through Jesus that we have access to God. PRAISE GOD that He has given us His Holy Spirit to be with us for every good work under Heaven!
And so, as we turn toward the baptism this morning, it is a most humbling thing for me, as Ashley and I are reminded that it is not her and I that will raise this child, but God and His–revealed–grace in this baptism that will truly raise her. We have the delight of raising her and Laney with the help of God—the Holy Spirit. Today begins for our family a commitment to helping God in His work in her life. We are inviting you, too, to help us and work with God to bring about salvation in her and in this world through her. This is the prayer and expectation that we have for all of God’s children, and not just the young ones. Baptism is for all who would recognize Jesus as Lord and accept that they are no longer an orphan, lost in the world. The family of God is one child bigger today through this Holy Baptism.
God has not left us but is powerfully here, with each of us, even today and I urge you to either recognize or re-claim that today. Remember: You are strong because He is strong.