"You are God's people...."
"I go to prepare a place for you....I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except by me."
These texts were not written to brow beat people into the Christian faith, they were written to a people that needed some assurance that what they believed was valid in a world that continually rediculed them. So at baptism, when someone chose Jesus, a hymn was sung" You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation.....God's own people, who has called you out of the darkness and into his marvelous light." (2 Peter) The hymn was reminding the baptized that in a world that had damned them to a "nobody" status that "you really are a people claimed by God!" You have a place!
In John's time, his community, too, faced struggle and disparagement, and yet he hears Jesus saying "I go to prepare a place for you; I am the way the truth and the life." In other words, "you have not bet on the wrong horse."
I still need these words as pastor of a Christian Church, but not to hate non believers, or to make me feel superior to them, or to disparage other faiths, but because it is not easy today to be a Christian today. We may not face perscution but I think we face an equally difficult opposition - a "yawn." People have found their "place" in other communties. People are passing us by. And so I need these reminders, too, that finding Christ is like finding a place where you can stand, a secure place that life and time and death cannot take away. I need to be reminded that my baptism, and my choice of Jesus is the way the truth and the life.
Today, Christian churches are hanging on for dear life as the world seems to move beyond what we offer; it sounds a lot like the early days of our faith, and so maybe these texts, for us, will take on its orginal feeling and importance - "You have a place!" "You are God's people!"
"You haven't bet on the wrong the horse!"