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Our Ministry to the Christian World, by Preston Thomas

2014-11-12 3:11 PM | Daniel

Jesus spent the whole night in communion. The way I would like to define communion here is that Jesus spent the night listening to the Father calling him the Beloved. That is the voice Jesus heard when he came up out the Jordan River (Luke 3:22) and he hears that same voice on the mountain: “You are my beloved Son, on you my favor rests. I declare you to be my Beloved, the one in whom I pour out all my love. You are my favorite one.” (See Luke 9:35.) It is with this knowledge of being the Beloved that Jesus could walk freely into a world in which he was not treated as the Beloved. People applauded him, laughed at him, praised him, and rejected him. They called out “Hosanna!” and they called out “Crucify!” But in the midst of all these voices, Jesus knew one thing—I am the Beloved; I am God’s favorite one.

Why is it so important that we are with God and God alone on the mountaintop? It is important because it’s the place in which we can listen to the voice of the One who calls us the beloved. Jesus says to you and to me that we are loved as he is loved. That same voice is there for us. To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of our being and permeate our whole life. Who am I? I am the beloved. If we are not claiming that voice as the deepest truth of our being, then we cannot walk freely in this world.

This listening is not easy. Jesus spent the night  in prayer. God’s voice is not a voice we always hear with physical ears. God’s word is not always an insight that suddenly comes to us in our minds or that satisfies our hearts.

That is where the disipline of prayer comes in. We are called to pray not because we feel like praying or because it gives us great insights but simply because we want to be obedient, to listen to the voice that calls us the beloved. The word listen in Latin is audire. If we listen with full attention, it’s called ob-audire, and that’s where the word obedience comes from. Jesus is the obedient one—totally open to the love of God. But if we are closed, we are surdus. That is the Latin word for deaf. The more “deaf” we get, the more absurdus we become, and an absurd life is precisely a life in which we no longer listen and are constantly distracted by all sorts of voices, losing touch with the truth that we are the beloved.

Real freedom to live in this world comes from hearing clearly the truth about who we are, which is that we are the beloved. That’s what prayer is about. And that’s why prayer is so crucial and not just a nice thing to do once in a while. It is the essential attitude that creates in us the freedom to love other people—not because they are going to love us back but because we are so loved, and out of the abundance of that love we want to give.

This is where ministry starts because our freedom is anchored in claiming our belovedness. Being the beloved allows us to go into this world and touch people, heal them, speak with them, and make them aware that they too are beloved, chosen, and blessed. It is an incredible mystery of God’s love that the more we know how deeply we are loved, the more we will see how deeply our sisters and our brothers in the human family are loved.

But we have to pray. We have to listen to the voice that calls us the beloved.

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