Though the world could not see Jesus, His followers believed that He was still with them, that He had not left them. As He promised, He has sent His Spirit to help them, to guide them, to console them, and to remind them of His teachings; made His home in their hearts.
He helped them to believe, and He helped them to work out their belief through their love for others.
We can imagine their sense of frustration that the world around them did not understand their experience, and simply could not see things in the way that they could.
In many ways we face a similar situation as those early Christians.
We live in a world that is either hostile or simply indifferent to the Gospel message, even in these difficult times.
Many people, even people of obvious goodwill, fail to see the importance of Christ for humanity, and are ready to dismiss as wishful thinking and claims of having a spiritual life or an experience of God.
For many, life is a meaningless span of years, which they try to make as painless as possible until death finally puts an end to it.
How are we supposed to respond to this view of life?
Well, Jesus’ answer to His disciples is still very much valid today;
“If you love me keep my commandments”
He summed up the commandments by saying that the most important thing is to love God with our whole hearts and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
If you want to know how to live as a Christian, you would do well to concentrate your thoughts on those two central commandments.
Following Christ is not about being ‘religious’; anyone can be ‘religious’ but that doesn’t mean they love either God or anyone else.
We are called, even commanded, to love; but you cannot love what you don’t know.
We need to get to know God, and to love Him with all our hearts.
Loving, as Jesus loved, means asserting the value of every single individual, working to build up the community, and leading a life of loving service; even if it may cost us dearly.
When Christians live as Christ commands, we offer the world an alternative and more enduring vision of what life can be for those who are willing to accept the Spirit of truth and to allow Him into their hearts.
We cannot force people to do this; we cannot make them see the truth.
But if we love in the way Jesus commands, then we demonstrate the reality of the Christ we believe in, and our world will be continually confronted by Christ and His Gospel and will be able to look again and to decide.
Then some will see a different picture of Jesus and will accept His offer of eternal life.
And they will understand it not as a list of tenets of religion; but as a living relationship of love.