Mar20WedMarch 20, 2019
Next Sunday, Ryan Leander will be giving our final message in the epistle of 1 John. I invite you to pray for him as he prepares to give his first sermon at FMC. Then, as April approaches we will shift our gaze towards the passion of Jesus as communicated in Philippians 2.
However, before we conclude John’s first epistle, I would like to draw our attention to one of his major themes – abiding in Christ. From my count, the Holy Spirit led John to write the phrase “abide” or “in Him” twenty-four times within this short letter! Love (or agape - as the costly, merciful, visible action of God) is the only phrase which appears more frequently. His overall goal seems to be to encourage the believers to continue to abide in Jesus – in order to love one another and remain confident as witness while false teachers spread erroneous and dangerous doctrines within their community.
But what exactly does it mean to ‘abide in Christ?’
If someone were to ask me if I ‘abided in Christ’ yesterday, I would immediately think of my time in Scripture, prayer or spiritual conversations with other Christians. Those spiritual disciplines are certainly part of abiding. However, it appears as though abiding is much more than that!
Let’s assume that Jesus knew how to abide in His Father’s presence perfectly. Yet, Jesus slept, ate, laughed, cried, taught, rebuked, healed, and listened. How did he abide while doing life? The Gospel of John gives us several hints. Early in his ministry, Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and accomplish his work” (John 4:34) During one of Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem, he said, “The son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” (5:19a). Later, “I do not seek my own will but rather the will of him who sent me” (5:30b). At the Feast of Booths, Jesus said, “My teaching is not mine, but him who sent me” (7:16). “I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (7:29). The underlying theme from Jesus’ life was one of absolute dependence upon the Father…for everything! Jesus, as God in the flesh, was the most powerful man to ever walk upon the earth. And yet, he postured himself as a very dependent man.
Consider this illustration. I took our twins to their first Mennonite Relief Sale on Friday night. If we were not eating something, their hands were anchored firmly in mine. I was glad for this, but this was also their choosing. For them, the sale was a sea of tall, noisy people meandering in a strange, enormous building. They clung to me for peace-of-mind and direction. Isn’t that what Jesus’ did? In his humanity, He tightly clung to His Father’s “hand” and followed His every move. Of course, he didn’t have to, but he chose to.
How would your day be different if you considered Jesus’ example as a necessary, ongoing posture? I suppose we would end up praying something similar to St. Patrick, the Irish missionary.
“Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down…
I arise today through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation.”
If abiding is choosing to depend upon and follow God through every part of the day – eating, sleeping, working and talking – then I encourage us to follow Christ’s example and live each moment with the Father’s hand guiding our path. Let's abide in Him today!