… if you’re at all familiar with the Gospels you may be racking your brain now and wondering when Jesus does anything that could remotely be compared to going to the gym or doing some baking-
is it when he walks on water… nope
the hike up the mountain with his friends… nope
maybe the baking link is easier- the feeding of the 5,000? or the breaking of bread at the last supper or after his resurrection? Nope, nope and nope.
Ok- here’s the connection. Its when he prays.
When Jesus prays for his disciples, as recounted in John’s Gospel, chapter 17, it reminded me of both those things, and here’s why… BTW this is a paraphrase and adaptation of what I said yesterday morning in church…
Jesus prays for his disciples that they’d be protected- that God would protect them. He doesn’t pray that they would stay safe and sound, or be kept from dangerous places, but that God would be alongside them and protect them in those situations… if you want to make bread, or bake cakes that taste wonderful, then you have got to turn the oven up hot and go into the kitchen. And most chefs I know have a few burn marks on their arms, but they also use the protection to hand- aprons, towels, oven gloves… those things that are available and intended to protect you in that place. Oven gloves are useless when typing blogs or tying shoelaces, but essential when removing hot items from the oven.
God’s protection over the disciples, and over Christians today, is not for when we’re sitting in a comfy safe place, but when we’re in a place of risk and danger. Jesus prays that God would protect his followers because he expects them to be in those situations.
Ok, and the gym? Well, Jesus also prays that his followers would be ‘sanctified’- made holy. And that’s a process, an ongoing process. Its one which is best done with a guide and a goal, with some advice and gradually… rather like signing up for membership of a gym, only this one is a spiritual gym. When you first go to a gym its all a bit scary looking and everyone seems more confident and fitter than you, but with the advice of the person who took you along, or the fitness coach there you can find the best starting place for you and work from that… Spiritually we’re all at different starting points- whether we’re struggling to know how to pray, can’t easily engage in worship through singing unless we already know a particular song, just don’t ‘get’ reading the Bible as a way to hear from God or find ourselves caught up all too easily in bad habits of our past…
It takes effort to move off the spiritual couch…we need to actually put on the spiritual oven gloves… we need encouragement and maybe a bit of coaching… and here’s Jesus, on the night before his arrest and execution, and his highest priorities in prayer are- oven gloves and a coaching session so that his disciples can flourish rather than wither, can grow in strength and become all that he sees in them.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I know which I prefer. See you there?