“You know if going to Rumelle and finding him so that he can go home. If that earns me the right to get back to my wife, then that’s my mission.”
So says Captain Miller, portrayed by Tom Hanks, in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Captain Miller leads a group of soldiers on a mission to save one soldier, after reports of his brothers being killed in combat, and the necessity of sparing his mother the anguish of losing all her children in battle.
As the soldiers engage in various skirmishes in an effort to find the soldier without modern communication, they discuss the merits of the mission. “You wanna explain the math of this to me? I mean, where’s the sense of riskin’ the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?” says one of the men. Even Miller says, “He’d better go home and cure some disease or invent a longer-lasting light bulb or something.”
Yet they remained faithful to their mission. They knew ultimately their desire was to be home with their loved ones, away from the battle. But they also knew the importance of the mission they were called to.
In Jesus final hours, in what was typical of Jesus, He spends His time praying for himself, for His disciples, and for future believers. And in His prayer, He says poignant words that resonate generations. It is a prayer that the Father answers. “I do not ask that you take them out of this world, but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
But why? We know Paul said that it is better to depart and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). We know that heaven ultimately is our home and we are strangers and aliens on earth (1 Peter 2:11).
The motivation for Jesus’ prayer comes just a few verses later: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus was sent on a rescue mission into the world and so He sends His people on the same mission.
Jesus doesn’t pray for your escape from the world, He prays for your victory. Not to abandon the world but to overcome it. He calls us to the same mission He was on. He desires not be OF the world, but SENT INTO the world. David Mathis writes, “Jesus’ true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We’ve been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.”
PRAYER FOR THE SAINTS FOR A MISSIONAL LIFESTYLE
Often, in our desire to be holy, we separate ourselves from the world’s system. Although we have good intentions, we can run the risk of neglecting the call to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our pursuit of Jesus should lead to insulation from the heat of the enemy’s attack on our devotion to Jesus, but never lead to isolation from the lost people around us. Pray that as the saints of CityLights mature in Christlikeness, they will be insulated from the attacks from the evil one, but also be integrated in the lives of the lost with the mindset that we are on a rescue mission for Jesus- change agents with the life transforming gospel message.