“And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” John 17:11

One of the most powerful images of the church is when it is seen as the very body of Christ in this world. Often we become holy huddles, or little groups of close friends and family, that forget that there is a larger purpose or mission to our faith as gathered believers. We do this out of comfort and convenience. We seek to be part of something larger than ourselves, but when we join that group we like to remain at a comfortable pace. In the end, many churches sacrifice their identity of being the very hands and feet of Christ for the complacency and comfort of the familiar.

I could cite all sorts of parts of Scripture where the faithful have been commanded to places other before themselves, but it is here at the end of John’s gospel that I find one of those passages that is deeply impactful to me.

In John 17:11 Jesus is preparing to leave this world for the Kingdom of Heaven and is discussing that with God, making note that the world will be without Him again. But Christ is alright with that because we are here still. Jesus is calm leaving His creation because He leaves His church behind to carry out the work of ministry. Let that sink in for a moment, because if you’re like me you just glanced over this and moved on with life.

Jesus is good leaving this world because He left the church to continue God’s work.

That same church, that is you and me!

As we continue to make our way as a community through the reality of COVD-19, we will be faced with all sorts of things. We are all over it and tired of hearing about it. We are over distance education, we are all over-Zoom’ed, and we are all just tired of the endless worrying. We are all growing in weariness of the political nature this whole pandemic is taking on, and we are all just flat out tired. But as people of faith, no matter what conditions it is in, Christ has left us in the world to continue His work. We might be tired, and restless and all other sorts of things in this season, but above all we are still the hands and feet of Christ!

Churches continue God’s work of ministry among all the people of the world. Continue to be faithful to Christ’s call in your life as His very hands and feet, working to bring God’s grace and love to those who desperately need it around you. Continue to serve those in need in this time and welcome those who are lost into your midst. Church, Christ might be residing right now on the right hand of the throne and the whole of creation might seem a little darker and more lost than normal, but its OK.

Christ left you here, and with the power of His spirit you and I and the whole of the church will continue to serve the world in ministry and compassion until Christ comes in His final victory!

Rev. Eric Douglas is pastor of First United Methodist Church of Mineral Wells.

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