Scripture: John 17:26 CEB
“I’ve made your name known to them and will continue to make it known so that your love for me will be in them, and I myself will be in them.””
Over the years I have had the honor and privilege of officiating around 100 weddings. Weddings are a beautiful expression of a couple’s commitment to each other. The wedding ceremony is also a beautiful expression of God’s commitment to the couple. The couple stands before God, and the gathered congregation, and professes their love and commitment to each other in the form of a covenant. This covenant is a special relationship that involves three parties: bride, groom, and God. If the bride or groom decides to forsake the covenant, the marriage is in jeopardy. However, if the bride and groom decide to forsake the covenant they have made with God, the marriage is doomed. Of course, they can always return to the covenant and until they do the marriage will suffer. The amazing thing about marriage is that God is in the heart of the covenant. God promises to be in the bride, God promises to be in the groom, God promises to be in their marriage and in them.
One of my favorite parts of the marriage ceremony is the giving and receiving of the rings. In the liturgy for the ceremony the pastor says these words, “The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to us the uniting of these persons in holy marriage.” The shape of the ring is a circle, having no beginning or end. The very shape of the ring is a reminder to those receiving them of Christ’s unending love for them. It is in the context of this unending love that the marriage covenant is entered. One thing I am always sure to tell couples is they will let each other down from time to time. Their love for each other will need to be based on their covenant, not their feelings. I am also sure to tell them that God will never break the covenant. Just as Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us—God will always uphold the marriage covenant of which two people invite God to at the center. In essence, the rings are a reminder that God’s love and faithful promise is in each of them—and will always be.
This is what is so exciting to me about the above portion of Jesus’ prayer. Jesus is praying to the Father and letting Him know that he has lifted the Father’s name. The purpose of doing this was “so that your love for me will be in them, and I myself will be in them.” Did you get that? What Jesus is saying is that his life has been one big example of what it means to be a living, breathing vessel for God’s love. The very love of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is in you. Everywhere you go, Jesus is with you and living inside of you in the power and person of the Holy Spirit. This is why those who follow Jesus are capable of loving God and others the way Jesus did. The love of God is in them.
So today … hear the words of Paul from Romans 12 and live them!
So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your every day, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, and develops well-formed maturity in you.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for the example of Jesus Christ. Thank you for showing your love for all of humanity through Jesus. Help me to remember that your love is in me. Empower me to live like Christ today. In the name of Jesus. Amen.