Slowing Down to Abide in Christ
We are in the midst of a cultural revolution. Through the internet we have access to more information than we can ever apply, and the ability to share our lives instantly, most of us from our phone. Technology has made this possible. Yet there is no greater threat from technology than its power to distract us from our inner lives.
Eric explained in his message that John 15:1-11 is one of the most relational passages in the New Testament. Jesus is talking about our being in him, and him being in his Father. In our digital age our spiritual life depends on disconnecting ourselves from everything that keeps us from remaining intimately connected to our Savior.
Six times in this passage Jesus repeats the words “abide in me.” By definition abide means to stay, to dwell, to remain in place, sitting. Jesus uses the illustration of the vine and branches. Sitting with Jesus, we are remaining and being rejuvenated by a vital relationship with him. A contemporary rendition of this metaphor might be the cell phone. If you don’t charge it every day, it’s dead. You can’t use it. You have to recharge it. Like the iPhone, we have to be plugged into our power source, Jesus. We need to intentionally and continually plug into Jesus in meaningful ways.
Motivations for Abiding
There are several motivations for abiding in Jesus.
In verse 3, we read “you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” We have the assurance of righteousness that comes through his declaration that we are clean.
In verse 8, we see that fruit production is a proof of our salvation. Fruit represents everything produced by a vital connection to Christ. How much are you plugged into another source of power? Digital trinkets lead us away from a vital, power-infusing connection to Christ.
In verse 2, it’s clear we must bear fruit or we will “be taken away.” Jesus is talking to real believers, to his disciples. He’s saying our true fear should be about how desperately we need to be connected to God. John, the author of this book, is also talking about unbelievers. He’s saying, if you have only a superficial connection to Jesus, cry out and cling to Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, and then abide in him.
The response to this fear is shown in verse 7, faith-filled, dependent prayer. If we are continually dwelling, remaining in place, sitting with Jesus, we can know our request to Jesus will be heard, and he will respond. John 14:13 says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” We give him glory as he answers our request.
Verse 9 says we are to abide in Jesus’ love, the love he received from the Father and gave to us. We find our joy in him by sitting with him. Want to rest 100 percent assured that you’re right with God? Abide in Jesus’ love.
Three Means of Abiding
These three means of abiding are absolutely necessary for staying connected to Jesus:
1. Careful listening―listening to Jesus’ words. We have been planted in the rich soil of his word. We feed and live off of his word day after day. We read a great example of this in Luke 10:38-42, about Mary and Martha. Martha was distracted by all things she needed to do. But Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to his words. Mary got it. There is no other way.
2. Thoughtful response―praying in Jesus’ name. When day after day we sit with Jesus, drinking from his word, it inflames our hearts and minds. We know his thoughts and desires and love them. We pray in his will and ask, and he does what we ask. We see our sin and repent of it.
3. Obedience―obeying Jesus’ commands. We want to obey his commands because they result in our joy. When we sit with Christ, listen carefully, pray in faith, joy and eager longing, God grows us so that we obey him with hearts of gratitude and joy.
Two Questions for You
In this digital age we are constantly pummeled with messages clamoring for our attention and priority in our lives. But what we need can only be found in an abiding relationship with the Lord. So I have two questions for you.
Can you honestly say today that you are deeply abiding in Christ? Can you call your relationship with Jesus a friendship? Do you know his heart? Do you know that he gets you? Do you feel freedom in his presence? This is what it will look like as we increasingly connect with Jesus.
What might you need to disconnect from to abide with Jesus? What’s keeping you distracted from sitting at his feet? A technological lure? A TV show you regularly watch? You haven’t been in your Bible for days, weeks or years? You’re scrolling through Facebook and look up to see an hour has passed? You’re trying to keep up with the flood of emails at work, but you can’t? Maybe it’s time to cast something out and return to the only necessary thing.
More in Redeemer Blog
January 28, 2020You Can't Know What You Don't Know
October 30, 2019When are the Glory Days: Lessons Learned from Heartland Part Two
October 29, 2019When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One