John 17:20-26 (NRSV)
Verse 20"I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, Verse 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Verse 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, Verse 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Verse 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Verse 25"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. Verse 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
How about this prayer of Jesus as the basis for Scripture and Prayer at the next Evangelism Committee Meeting—or for the next New Member Group that joins? Jesus’ prayer is for all who to this very day become believers through our words of invitation.
Herbert Chilstrom, my Bishop in Minnesota for twelve years and then for eight more years in the wider Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, often said, “The Gospel can be summed up in two words, ‘Come’ and ‘Go,’ and both words are invitations.” Jesus invited the first believers to “come and follow” him, and he invited the first apostles to “go and make disciples.” To be an evangelical church we are called to be enthusiastic evangelical inviters!
Even if the world doesn’t know the Righteous Father, Jesus gives me the confidence to make him known wherever I go and in whatever I do, because he has already prayed for all future believers!
Besides this, I can pray for them, too!
Thank You, Jesus, for standing at the door of every heart and “knocking” even before their name appears on my “call list.” Give me the words of invitation and the courage to speak them lovingly. Amen!