In my early Christian days I had the opportunity to go away for a weekend or so, on a number of young adult Christian retreats. I can still remember most of them and the joy and love that was shared with one another on these retreats. I recall how we learned together, prayed together and so enjoyed one another’s company. I also recall how when we all parted, each to our own separate areas, how we hugged one another and that it was often an emotional parting.
And then of course, we had to go back to the current world, a world that was so much different from those scant few days we had just recently shared together. As I recall, we were usually “pumped up” for Jesus upon returning, but that usually slowly dissipated somewhat as the days between the last day of the retreat and what I shall call “normalcy” lengthened.
I often think of how the Apostles and disciples of Jesus must have felt after Jesus ascended back to His and our Father. Where they “pumped up”? I’m pretty sure they were. But then those days of “normalcy” started to set in. Jesus wasn’t with them, in the flesh, anymore.
Would they have missed that direct face to face interaction with Jesus? I’m thinking that they wouldn’t be human, if they didn’t. Remember how Jesus told His disciples that soon He would be leaving and going to His Father but that He would not leave them alone, as orphans?
John 14:16-19 NASB reads as follows:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. After a little while, the world no longer is going to see Me, but you are going to see Me; because I live, you also will live.” Emphasis is mine.
What we as believers in Jesus Christ experience today, was also experienced by the Apostles and early disciples. True, they had seen Him, but Jesus did ascend back to the Father, and they were still in this world, and the world that they still lived in, no longer saw Jesus. And that world, included them.
I often think about the transition that had to have taken place, in the Apostles and early disciples lives. It’s a transition that had to make them very mindful of being in the world, but not of the world. Does that reality cross your mind? It certainly crosses mine. I see the material world every day, but there is more than just the material world. There is more than just what I physically see.
And the “Helper”, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit of God, lives within us today, just like He lived within the Apostles and early disciples of so long ago, after Jesus ascended back to His and our Father.
The reality of the promised “Helper”, is Christ living in us, now, here, today. And what we “see” depends on that which we focus on. What did the Apostles and early disciples focus on? JESUS, even though they could no longer “see” Him. There is no doubt, as we read through the New Testament, that the Apostles and early disciples, lived in this world, but were not focused on this world. They had one mindset, one message, one goal, and that was to spread the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are a thousand and one things that detract us every day, from maintaining our focus on Jesus and I acknowledge that sometimes it is difficult to maintain a balance, with Jesus being our prime focus. I suspect that every Apostle and every early disciple experienced this reality. It requires a determination of focus. A determination of need. A determination of trust. A determination of faith in God.
And there is one simple truth, provided in James 4:8 NASB, that addresses this daily quest that we all experience, and please note that I did say “we”.
“Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.“
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!