A promise of protection

July 24, 2006 at 1:52 pm 1 comment

Via the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity
Holy Father, protect them… While I was with them, I protected them… I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. John 17:11,15

In his prayer Jesus asks his heavenly Father to protect his disciples. This is not the kind of prayer request that may be turned down. Jesus and the Father are one in willed purpose. This prayer is promise.

The bible often speaks of God’s protection. The Lord is a fortress, a hiding place, a refuge. But what exactly does protect mean? When the disciples looked back at the end of their lives, where would they have seen God’s protection? James, executed in the early days of the church; Peter, imprisoned and beaten, and probably crucified. They all probably experienced the treatment that Paul lists – flogging and stoning, imprisonment and shipwreck. What kind of protection was this?

Does protection mean that nothing can ever hurt us or tempt us? It is clear from both old and new testaments that we are not taken out of the world and the battle, but that we are protected in it. As we follow him in trust and obedience we are protected from spiritual harm, protected so that we can fulfil his purposes for our life’s service, until we have ‘fought the good fight and finished the race’.

Perhaps we won’t know, until all is revealed, the ways in which he has been protecting us throughout our lives. Where he has pulled us back from the brink of disaster, because our time has not yet come. Where he has protected us from the consequences of temptation and foolishness. Where he has led us down a different path from the one we had chosen, which could have been catastrophic. We don’t know where he has defended and protected us, but I am sure he has.

So when we think about God’s protection, we are called to gratitude for the many ways he has protected us – and will do so. But we are also called to vigilance, so that we do not lay ourselves and our fellow disciples open to attacks from the evil one. When Jesus was tempted to throw himself off the temple, trusting to God’s protection, his answer was, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’.

Margaret Killingray

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Entry filed under: Africa, Culture, Kenya, Literature, Media, Missions, Religion, Society, World.

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