Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meditations on 1 John: XXII

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit…Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us, God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Concluding our reflection on the word “abide” in John’s first letter:

Loving one another, the giving and receiving of the Holy Spirit, confession that Jesus is the Son of God – these are all dynamics of abiding in the Trinity. Abiding in the Trinity is to be our naturally supernatural sphere of life, our breath, our heartbeat, our joy, our daily vision and delight. While abiding in Christ is remarkable, it is not to be thought of as the exception in our lives but rather the rule, the norm, for the one who follows Jesus.

The theme of abiding in God is woven throughout John’s first letter; it is also prominent in John’s Gospel. Jesus says, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing, (John 15:4-5).  

We have a peach tree in our yard on which peaches are forming. Suppose I cut off a branch that has fruit in the process of formation – what can I expect from that branch? What can I expect from it today, tomorrow, next year? Can I expect the fruit to continue to form and ripen? Can I expect to eat sweet and juicy peaches from the branch? Can I expect the branch to bear fruit next year? They are absurd questions because I can expect none of these things. It is also absurd to think that we can bear fruit outside of Jesus Christ, it is absurd to think that we can sustain that which God has begun apart from His ongoing abiding presence and grace (Galatians 3:1-3).

Consider the love that the Father has for the Son, what a love it must be, a love that surpasses our comprehension. Do we know that Jesus loves us as the Father loves Him? Do we know that the Father loves us as He loves Jesus? Jesus says, Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love, John 15:9. Jesus also says, I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me, John 17:23.

Do we gloss over these words of Jesus? Do we think them unattainable? Impractical? Impossible? They are only unattainable in the sense that we cannot produce that which Jesus promises, we can only receive His words and abide in them by His grace and the Holy Spirit. We can respond to His life, we cannot produce or sustain His life. His life is to be our life, our Way of life – abiding in Him is our home, our address, our biosphere. Oh what joy there is in Jesus; and what liberty to forget ourselves and to love Him and others.

What is the point of living in a beautiful home if it is not to enjoy it with others, if it is not to practice hospitality? A home is made beautiful by peace, love, and contentment. A home may be palatial but cold and without the warmth of love and care – true beauty includes correspondence between heart and eye. Are we inviting others to come and live with us in Jesus? Are we practicing the hospitality of witness? Or do others pass the door of our heart daily without so much as an invitation to have a cup of cool clear water from the Throne (Revelation 22:1; Isaiah 32:1-2)? Would we hide a source of inexhaustible pure water from desert travelers? Then how can we hide the Living Water from those who we see every day?

Abiding in Christ is not an unattainable ideal – it is our desperate necessity; it is also the delight of our lives.

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