Tuesday, July 16, 2013
A Prayer of Benediction
Heb. 13:20 ¶ Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
Heb. 13:21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Wrapped up in this one prayer you find a great early creedal statement. Our God is a God of peace! This is a descriptor of his loving nature, one that results in peace. He is the God of resurrection power, who has won the victory over death. Jesus is the great shepherd, the one who will nurture and care for all of his sheep and has given his blood for those sheep. Jesus is the one who completes us, and it is his good which completes us. It is the goal of Jesus Christ who brings us to the finish line where we find him! And the result is that we can do his will because Christ is the goal, but Christ is also in us and the result is that God is the one who is praised forever.
There are times when we need to be able to describe our faith in a short and concise way. So often we get caught up in the words and we wonder how we can tell others about what we believe. Amazingly in this one short benediction there is so much to know about God, his nature, his love, his son, what has been done for us and what is made possible for us. It is the whole message of the Gospel, including salvation and sanctification in one brief prayer.
And yet, why do we struggle with telling others about our faith? In the early church there were many martyrs, those who were willing to die for their faith. Interestingly the word "martyr" means witness. They were willing to die for what they had personally witnessed and these witnesses were publicly giving testimony to the work of Jesus Christ. None of these people had to memorize a plan of salvation. They didn't have to think about how to put together their testimony. Why? Because they had a testimony! It's as if they were invited to sit in the witness seat at a trial and are asked to describe what they had seen. They told their personal story and it became a living witness to the work of Jesus in the world.
Could it be that we struggle with sharing the gospel because our personal encounters with the Gospel have been few and far between? It's difficult to give testimony about something you haven't experienced. Therefore the struggle with sharing our faith maybe shouldn't be with a church or pastor that hasn't given us a good enough plan, but may be it ought to be a self evaluation. What has Jesus done in my life that I could share with someone else? You see, our personal stories, our personal witness, are the very best. They don't need to be practiced or rehearsed, but they come from the heart.
Obviously the author of Hebrews had experienced peace from God. They had experienced the shepherding of Jesus Christ. They had been on a spiritual journey in which they were made complete in Christ and knew that a confession was nothing without action. A true witness to the gospel not only sees, but is transformed by the experience and therefore the story becomes personal as it is internalized. There remains an acute realization that all that is accomplished in and through the witness is to and for the glory of God.
What would be your prayer of benediction today?
Lord, there remains so much to learn. Please, help me to continue to grow in you today and may I share the faith I have in you as a personal witness to your glory. Amen.