I remember running around the neighborhood with friends, walking to parks, and running to and from school in the morning. During the summer time, we did so much running around that we stopped by the house when we were hungry. When I went off to college, my parents took me to the airport and dropped me off so I could get on my plane with one huge trunk and a suitcase. In those days, they may have waited in the waiting area with me. Once I got on that plane, I was on my own, including figuring out how to get from the airport to college with my luggage. These days, we couldn’t do those things. This world is a dangerous place. Parents make sure their kids are safe, many going so far as to go to the registration counseling sessions when their child chooses classes for the next semester.
Helicopter parents is the term we use to describe this. They want to make sure that nothing bad is going to happen to their kids, so they are hovering over them every step of the way. Their kids can’t make mistakes, because they prevent it. They don’t learn from their mistakes because the protections the parents provide mean that they don’t make mistakes, others do and they make sure to take it out on anyone who doesn’t recognize the genius of their child. Protection is an important part of parenting, but that kind of protection goes overboard. Jesus recognized the need we have for protection from outside forces, knowing that we would make mistakes in the world. He prayed for that protection. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
As Jesus is preparing to go to the cross, He prays for His disciples. He prayed not only for those in the room with Him, but also for those who would hear the message and follow Him down through the ages. He didn’t pray that nothing bad would happen. He knew that His disciples would be hated in the world. He prayed that they would stay true to God’s word and their relationship with God. He prayed that God would protect them from the wiles of the evil one; the one we call Satan today. This prayer doesn’t ask God to be a helicopter parent, it asks Him to strengthen each of us through His word and to allow us to stay faithful to Him no matter what. Jesus knew that this world would be a difficult place for anyone that chose to follow Him and thus He invoked God’s protection. As we saw this protection work down through the ages, it wasn’t a shield to the physical body that prevented any kind of persecution; it was a strength the prevailed through the persecution that allowed His people to keep loving the persecutors.
We have some Christians today who seem to think our God is a helicopter God. Nothing can go wrong for the Christian. If it does, that’s the fault of the Christian not having enough faith. If we don’t have perfect health and piles of cash lying around, we just need to exercise our faith more. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We should live in a world that hates us because of our commitment to Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with having stuff, we should be so unconcerned about accumulating stuff that people wonder about us. We should be in such unity that people recognize the presence of God in all that we do. When people look at us, do they see us living in unity with God and with each other, or do they see us depending on the things of this world. If we want God to protect us, we need to depend on Him instead of the things of this world. We show that dependence on Him when we love His children and when we stop trying to look “good” in the eyes of the world. I wish I could tell you the easy way to do that. What I can say is draw closer to God and seek His direction for your life instead of seeking approval from the world. That will protect you from the evil one.
Oh Lord, how often do I depend on the things of this world to sustain me instead of following You? Help me depend on Your protection and not the things of this world.