After surviving cancer, then a serious heart attack, folks said there must be a reason I’m still here. Yes, and the reason is to pray and work for the body of Christ to recover her lost, horizontal dimension and her greatness.
What’s At Stake? Some think the cross was a stake, but by definition a cross has two dimensions. They symbolize our vertical love for God and our equally vital love for others. Who are these “others?” Paul explained that it is “..everyone, but especially the family of believers.” (Galatians 6: 10) So, our purpose calling isn’t first to strangers, then to our church family, but vice versa. You might object, “What about the Great Commission!” Yes! Jesus taught the way to reach the lost is by first obeying his command to love each other. His strategy is to model his love among ourselves so the world, will “..know we are Christians by our love. “
The Other Comforter. Just before he went to the cross, Jesus promised “another comforter”—the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. But who was the first paraclete? It was Jesus himself. Paraklete comes from para meaning “besides” and kletos, meaning “called”. Parakletes are those with a calling—a purpose—to come alongside others to strengthen them. Jesus declared his own purpose was to release the captives and free the oppressed. (Luke 4:18).
Jesus Was Peter’s Paraclete. Imagine how Simon Peter’s self-esteem sky-rocketed when Jesus nick-named him “Rocky.” Those who knew Peter’s impulsive, wishy-washy character, might have chosen “Sandy” instead.
But Jesus, the paraclete, looked beyond Peter’s faults and saw a leader. He trained him for the vital task ahead by forging the shifting sands of Peter’s personality into rock-like character.
Jesus knew Peter would deny him. But paracletes don’t give up on their friends. “When you have repented,” Jesus told him, “strengthen your brethren.” What was Jesus up to? He was training Peter to be a paraclete also. Did Peter succeed? Read these comforting words he wrote to believers and judge for yourself. ”You are living stones God is building into his spiritual temple. You are his holy priests, offering sacrifices that please God.” (1Peter 2:5)
Barnabas the Paraclete. How discouraged Paul was when Barnabas found him in Tarsus! He tried to do God’s work, but was rejected by believers and hated by the Jews. Barnabas saw Paul’s true worth, came alongside him and called him forth to help reach the Gentiles. No wonder Barnabas was called “Son of Encouragement”, The Greek word here is—you guessed it–paraclete.
Be a Paraclete. In the church, an important way we show love to one another is through comfort and encouragement, i.e. being a paraklete. When I was in the hospital, I was encouraged by the visits of such paracletes. They were fulfilling Christ’s purpose by their comforting presence, and that comfort has stayed with me.
Father, fill us with the Comforter’s power to love one another. Help us to be paracletes—to see the best in each other and bring forth the best in them. May we strengthen our brethren as Peter did, especially those going through tough times. Amen
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