“We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power of the Twentieth century does not reckon with. But we are ‘harmless’ and therefore unharmed. We are pacifist, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the–death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the cross. We are ‘sideliners’- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!”

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” John 17:11-12

One of the outstanding characteristics of God’s heroes is that they seem to have no fear. In the face of the most incredible odds arrayed against them, they attack with confidence and even joy. You just can’t intimidate them. Missionaries like William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, Samuel Zwemer and Jim Elliot left family and country with the full realization that they might not come back, ever! Listen to the words of the young Jim Elliot, as he leaves the docks of San Pedro for the jungles of Ecuador. 

“We left our moorings at the Outer Harbor Dock, San Pedro, California, at 2:06 P.M. today. Mom and Dad stood together watching at the pier side. As we slipped away Psalm 60:12 came to mind, and I called back, “Through our God we shall do valiantly.’ They wept some. I do not understand how God has made me. I didn’t even feel like weeping, and don’t, even now. Joy, sheer joy, and thanksgiving fill and encompass me.”

The disciples were drawn to Jesus by his majesty. There was something incredibly different about him. They were willing to leave all to follow him. They were not sure what “leaving all” meant, but they knew that in Jesus they found someone who was bigger and greater than their own earthly desires. In him, their hearts had discovered a satisfaction and delight that could not be compared with any other of life’s most treasured riches.

But, he had been saying some alarming things. He had talked about leaving them and about a great mission that they would undertake that was to be met with heavy resistance from evil forces. But, now he was praying for them. He was speaking to God, the Father, in simple and intimate words that surprised the disciples. He was not only praying for himself, he was praying for them. They were privy to communion between God the Father and God the Son and the subject was the glory of God and the success of their mission. It was a profound moment that they would never forget. In the dark and terrible battle that was ahead, they would often be comforted and encouraged by the words that Jesus prayed that night. They would expect that his prayers would be answered, and because of that, nothing, absolutely no power or barrier could keep them from accomplishing God’s purpose for their lives.     

Jesus prayed that the “Holy Father” would “protect them by the power of your name.” Only here does Jesus call God his “Holy Father.” Most commentators say that this was meant to focus upon the character of the Father’s infinite perfections and the realm into which the disciples had been incorporated. Through belief In the Son, they had been rescued from a world of darkness and death and birthed into light and life. They now know God through his Word and have been separated from the world unto him. But, not all are celebrating that glorious miracle. The world and the evil one [15] have marked them as their hated enemy. While Jesus was with them, he protected them. Now, he is leaving and he prays that the Father will keep them with all of the power that is wrapped up in his name. That same “name,” given to Jesus for his mission, led to the cross and secured defeat over all of the evil powers of the universe. In his victory, he secured for his disciples eternal life and complete victory in every conflict.       

To be “kept” in the power of the name meant that they were totally and completely and in every other way, secure!  There was nothing that the evil one could do to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [John 10:28-29] The same name that kept and empowered Jesus would keep and empower the disciples. Of that they were sure of because Jesus prayed and the Father always answers the prayers of the Son. One commentator paraphrases Jesus petition like this: “Keep their lives, till they have done their work; keep their comforts, and let them not be broken in upon by the hardships they meet with; keep up their interest in the world, and let it not sink.”

From this prayer we discover two crucial truths. First, In Christ, our souls are safe. The holiness that is ours in him is preserved by grace through faith that comes from God in a never ending torrent of divine truth. Living by the power of the Spirit and ordering our lives by God’s Word, we will persevere through all the temptations and traps that the evil one sets up. With Paul we can confidently declare, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day;” [2 Tim 1:12] However, although our salvation is settled, it is no reason to rest. It is a call to conflict. We are now soldiers in the army of God. We are called and commissioned to go and fight.

Second, we know that all that we do in his name will accomplish the purpose for which we are sent. In other words, we will accomplish our mission.  We do not have to worry about whether we have the intelligence or charisma or methodology to accomplish the task. We simply proclaim the Word of God in the power of the Spirit and God will bring forth the increase. We can say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is God’s work. His name is upon it.  His name is upon us. We are God’s handiwork. We will persevere and we will be victorious, not because of our worth but because of God’s worth. We will persevere and we will produce because he will honor his name. It is all for his glory that he works for our good.

Finally, Christ prayed so that you and I would do incredible things. We can shine light where it is the darkest. We can fight where the enemy is strongest. We can rejoice when the pain is the greatest. We can persevere when the fight gets toughest. Our faith is settled. Our life is short. Suffering is sure. God is Strong. Victory is sweet. Christ is supreme. So we can pray with Elliot, “God make us dangerous!”

“The religious life contains things too great for us to be lukewarm.”   Jonathon Edwards