7 Easter – Year B

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

“If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong.” – Leonard Ravenhill

Is the world really rotten to the core? Today’s Gospel passage uses the word “world” thirteen times. It is hard to not see the “world” as the theme here. Jesus speaks of the world in a seemingly derogatory way, saying that neither he nor we belong to it (John 17:14). What is the subject here? What is meant by the “world?” People? Planet earth? Passages like this in the New Testament have been used to blame Christians for our ecological problems, saying we neglect the environment because this is not our home. The accusation may be unjust. However, Christians have at times become other worldly, forgetting that Jesus taught that eternal life is also lived here on planet earth. And let us not forget that, in spite of the tone of this present passage, we read on the Fourth Sunday of Lent that “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16). God must see something essentially good in the world, not rotten to the core. Sometimes words are used in a narrow sense. In the New Testament the word “world” often does not refer to the world as such, nor to planet earth. It is frequently used to refer to what is wrong with our relationships with nature and each other, to what is not of God. The bible does not condemn the world as such, but only those things that are wrong with it. With some adjustment the world can become its true self. The bible teaches that the world is good, even if we sometimes are out of sync. And out of sorts we are. Look what we do to the environment. What is happening to the rain forests? Why is it that sometimes we don’t even know our neighbors? Sometimes we are spiritually empty so we try to fill ourselves with food, drink or drugs. We are only part of the world yet sometimes we try to be rulers of it. Maybe you or I don’t do that personally, yet we vote for leaders who do. With all this we might not even feel any tribulations (Ravenhill quote above). That is something wrong in itself. These are the sort of things Jesus is talking about. This is what we look at on this final week in the Easter season. We rise in resurrection ways above these problems. We live in this world embracing eternal life with our feet firming planted on this fragile earth, our island home.

Greek

In John 17:15 Jesus says that he does not pray that we be taken out of the world but that we be protected from the “evil one.” Most translations so have it. However, it may also be translated simply as “evil” as the King James Version has it. Given what Jesus means by the “world” it is better described as evil rather than as the devil.

Haiku

Round, the round world goes.

Where can I get spin off – not.

Rise up feet on ground.

 

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