“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27
An advocate, a teacher and a peace-giver, when we think about God, do we think about him in such terms? Do we think about God as someone who is active in such ways? Do we think about God as our own advocate? Do we think about God as our own teacher? Do we think about God as our own peace-giver?
In Saint John Chapter 14 Verse 25, Jesus speaks of, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name.” Would we ever have thought of God as our advocate? An advocate is someone who speaks for us, someone who defends us, someone who protects us. Would we ever have seen God in such a way? Do we see God as actively engaged on our behalf?
In what sort of God do we believe? There are many people who would say that they believe in God, but when it comes to describing the the sort of God in whom they believe, he is not like the Jesus we meet in the Gospel story. For many people, God is a God who is remote, God is a God who is far off. For many people, God is not someone who is part of everyday life, God is not someone who could be imagined as having our best interests at heart. Believing in God as our advocate is to believe in a God who is very different from ideas of God as being like an old man with a long white beard, or like a strict schoolmaster, or like a terrifying judge.
Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will be our advocate. How much difference to our daily thinking would it make if we really believed in God as our advocate? How much would it shape what we said if we believed the Holy Spirit was acting for us? How much would it change what we did if we believed the Holy Spirit was working in our interest?
Jesus continues in Verse 25, saying that the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” How often do we feel that we have new things to learn? If we are honest about it we would have to admit that we are like many adult Christians who feel that they know all they need and that there is nothing else that can be taught to them. If we look those to whom Jesus is speaking, we see a group of disciples who have been with Jesus for three years, people whom Jesus himself has taught for three years, and he is saying that the Holy Spirit will come as their teacher. If the disciples need the Holy Spirit as their teacher, then how much more do we need the Holy Spirit as our teacher?.
What might the Holy Spirit teach us if we were prepared to listen? We can only know by being prepared to listen, but that depends on a change of heart, being prepared to accept that our faith is not complete, but that we can learn and grow.
How much difference to our daily thinking would it make if we were prepared to accept God as our teacher? How much would it shape what we said if we believed the Holy Spirit was teaching us? How much would it change what we did if we believed the Holy Spirit was our teacher?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,says Jesus. The words are very familiar, Verse 27 is a text regularly read at funerals. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
While we may listen to the words, find them comforting, even think them poetic, how seriously do we take them? Perhaps we have heard those words so often that they do not have the impact that they might, they do not have the power to change the way we live our lives. A sense of God’s peace is surely something that should transform the way people see their lives, but how much sign do we see in the lives of Christians that they have really listened to what Jesus is saying? Many Christian people seem as anxious and worried as anyone else around. How often when things are difficult would we think about taking to heart the words about not being troubled or afraid.
How much difference to our daily thinking would it make if we ourselves really believed we had no need to be troubled or afraid because we had God’s peace? How much would it shape what we said if we believed we had no need to be troubled or afraid because we had God’s peace? How much would it change what we did if we believed we had no need to be troubled or afraid because we had God’s peace?
“And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe,” says Jesus in Verse 29. He has told us that we have God as our advocate, he has told us that we have God as our teacher, he has told us that we have God as our peace-giver – so that we may believe.
If we believe, then our believing should shape the way we think, the way we speak, and the way we act. God as advocate, teacher and peace-giver should make us into different people.