And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be put to shame before Him at His coming. [I John 2:28].
Continuing our reflection on the word “abide” in John’s first letter:
John writes the above while transitioning from a section on warning against loving the world and against the teaching of antichrists, to a focus on who we are in Christ and the coming of Christ. Verse 27 ends with “abide in Him”; verse 28 continues the exhortation to “abide in Him”. In verse 27 John writes that the anointing “abides in you” and that you are to “abide in Him”. We abide in the Trinity and the Trinity abides in us – if we are to take anything away from John’s letter then perhaps it is that this cannot be stated too often: We abide in the Trinity and the Trinity abides in us. The dwelling of God with men and in men, in Christ, is the motif and trajectory of the New Testament (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Revelation 21:3).
In 1 John 2:28 we are to abide in Him so that when He is manifested we will not be put to shame before Him (in His Presence) at His coming. If we are abiding in Him now and He appears in His fullness now (a theme taken up in Chapter 3) then we have a seamless, if you will, transition. If however, on the other hand, we are not living lives of intimacy with Him, if we are loving the world, if we are entertaining teachings of antichrists, if we are lying and living lives of half-truths, then the transition is akin to awaking in a pitch-black room and having bright lights suddenly turned on – the light will blind us and we will initially shrink from it.
Note the word “shame” in verse 28. We are accountable for how we live. Also notice the construction of the words, “put to shame”, while not all English translations show the force of this action upon those who are not abiding in Him at His coming, the thought is clearly that shame is something that happens to those who are not abiding in Him when He appears.
If we are abiding in Him then we may have confidence in His Presence today and tomorrow and when He appears in His fullness.
In Philippians Chapter 4, while Paul is exhorting his readers to harmony, and rejoicing, and gentleness, and thanksgiving, and pure thought lives he interjects, “the Lord is near”. Living in an awareness of His Presence is our calling; Jesus says, “I am with you always…” Matthew 28:20. The ascension of Jesus Christ did not mean a diminution of His Presence, rather it meant an increase of His Presence (John Chapters 14 – 17; Acts Chapter 2). We live as if He is far away when in fact He is in every beat of our hearts for He lives within us.
But 1 John 2:28 is not only an “already – not yet” proposition; that is we ought not to look at His appearing and His Presence as only futuristic, for just as His Presence is with us today so is His appearing – the question is whether we see His appearing today or whether we relegate His appearing exclusively to the future. If His appearing today finds us not abiding in Him then we can respond to the shame we feel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in repentance, or we can seek to justify ourselves and harden our hearts.
We are called to abide in Him, to live in Him, to enjoy intimacy with Him – our Lord Jesus Christ; this is life today, it is life tomorrow, and it is life for eternity.
And now, little children, abide in Him…