John 17:20-26; Acts 16:16-34
I awoke this morning with these words in my mind, "what a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine leaning on the everlasting arms. Leaning, leaning safe and secure from all alarm. Leaning, leaning leaning on the everlasting arms." It speaks to us of the oneness Jesus is talking about in this passage, it jumps out of the story in Acts too. Being one is not thinking of yourself first. It is leaning, in trust on the everlasting arms.
Picture it. You've been arrested because you have taken away someone else's livelihood by healing their property. The young woman was set free. Set free from the men who manipulated her and used her for their own gain. But their money making scheme from her had ended. Then Paul and Silas are thrown into prison. This is not a story that is going to end well. After all, they had already been beaten.
Think of how it must have been for them. Anticipating the next day's trial. The next judgment which could result in their death. They should be dreading what is coming, but they are praying and singing hymns. They know whose they are. They are confident on this promise of oneness so that others may know and believe. And it does happen. The earthquake comes. The guard supposing all the prisoners have escaped and that his punishment will be his life draws his sword to kill himself. Paul and Silas cry out to let him know they are still there.
Still there. Even though the sentence might be death. Even though this looks like the sign, an opportunity to save themselves, they don't. They think of the other and a whole household is baptized. Leaning on the everlasting arms.
How much do we face that is harder than this? Are we ever faced with losing our life? Do we ever think of the other first? It is so easy to get caught up in fear. I heard a report a couple weeks ago about children having to take away the media outlets in their aging parents homes because they listened to the news so much they had a disproportionate amount of fear for the problem.
Today here is Jesus asking us to surrender, to take in this picture of being one. Of not being afraid in the face of death, which will happen for him soon. Of trusting in the unity of this oneness so others may believe. What a fellowship if we can lean into the promise of what it shows. Paul and Silas staying and showing their faith is not in being saved on this earth, but being saved already. How do you show the world that you and Christ are one? Because this is the promise of good news today and always.