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Be an Advocate for Christ

May 8, 2023

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.”  John 14: 16-17a.

After reading through the Scriptures for Sunday[1], I pulled my 1980 law school yearbook off of the shelf.  The Scriptures reminded me of the yearbook, called The Advocates.  Anticipating law school graduation after an arduous course of study, we were all aspiring advocates for truth and justice.  The Scriptures speak of other advocates of truth—Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but also encourage us to be advocates for the truth—Christ’s truth.  And being a lay advocate for Christ’s truth doesn’t require a law degree or a seminary degree. It only requires a love of God and a desire to share that love. 

Mothers are prime examples of demonstrating God’s love to their children and for advocating for their children. We have an opportunity to pay tribute to our mothers next Sunday on Mother’s Day.  It is a day when mothers think about their own mothers and also about their children.  

Motherhood is full of challenges. Mothers feel the pain their children feel.  They worry about them. No one knew this better than Susanna Wesley.  She bore 19 children, 9 of whom died in infancy.  Their house burned down twice.  The family was dogged with financial difficulties her entire adult life.  But despite these problems and others, she wrote: “Help me, Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with thee.”   She was the motivating, sustaining, and advocating force behind her children, including John Wesley and Charles Wesley.  She was a strong woman who modeled her faith to her children.  

 Jesus is described as our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).  Jesus intercedes on our behalf—he argues for us—he defends us. As he was preparing his disciples for his departure from their lives, he assured them that he would ask the Father to send another advocate to help them: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” John 14: 16-17a.  The Holy Spirit is the advocate of truth who lives within us, and helps us in our daily lives. 

Jesus left us with many examples of his advocacy before the Pharisees and the priests of the temple. But we also have other documented examples of advocacy by the apostles.  Perhaps the most famous example is Paul’s address in Athens to the Epicureans and Stoics in their Council, called the Areopagus. 

 Paul was a rabbi who had the equivalent of several graduate degrees.  He had studied under the renown scholar, Gamaliel, who was mentioned in the Scripture texts a few weeks ago.  But instead of reciting Jewish history, as he did to his Jewish audiences, Paul quoted Greek poetry to these Greek philosophers, who must have been amazed at his ability to do so.  He quoted Epimenides(“For in him we live and move and have our being,”) and Aratus (“We are his offspring”) (Acts 17: 28) to build a case for the one true God.  He points out that “Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver of stone—an image made by human design and skill.”  God proved that he is who he says he is: “He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 29, 31b). 

Paul began with examples they understood and agreed with him on, to lead them to his message of the resurrected Christ.  We can follow Paul’s lead in learning how to help connect others with the God of the universe. 

Peter encourages us to be an advocate for Christ: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:13-22.   You don’t have to go to seminary or memorize talking points to be an advocate. 

 Letting the kindness and compassion of Jesus shine through you to others is the most authentic way to advocate for Christ.  For those who wish to engage you in conversation about your faith, you can explain how the Holy Spirit helps guide you as you walk through life.  How Jesus is there for you in times of loneliness and despair.  How his Word comforts and guides you through life.  How opening up communication with the God of the universe through prayer sustains you during life’s challenges.  How your church family supported and loved you when you received a scary diagnosis, lost a loved one, or suffered in other ways.  

When you are in constant communication with God, his light will shine through you to others, and will touch them in ways that you may never know.  Follow the examples set by Jesus and the apostles. Be an advocate by letting the Christ light shine through you to others, and if asked, tell them how Jesus’ Spirit helps you in language that they understand. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, guide me to be an advocate for Christ’s truth—through my words and actions. Remind me to pick up the phone to offer words of encouragement, humor, assistance, and love to others.  Move me to think of others’ needs, and how I might help them.  Help me shine your light into the lives that I touch today through my prayers for them, in my words to them, and in my actions toward them.  May your light shine through me so that they see only you and your love for them.  Amen

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the 6th Sunday of Easter are Acts 17:16-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21.

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