The Treasure of Abiding
Barbaranne Kelly, Guest Writer
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).
Anyone who knows me knows that I love jigsaw puzzles. Gradually discovering a whole picture made up of a multitude of smaller pieces is fascinating to me. This week we have been walking through the treasures of the gospel: fellowship with God and with one another, complete joy, the forgiveness of our sins, propitiation, and adoption to be God’s children — all because of the treasure of his love for us. Each of these gospel treasures is like puzzle pieces, which together reveal a grand view of our magnificent God.
As I have mined the treasures of 1 John this year, another puzzle piece has captured my attention, and the wonder of it grips my heart: we abide in God and God abides in us. This is a profound mystery but not a hidden mystery. It is a common theme in John’s writing because Jesus himself spoke of our abiding in him.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love... These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:1-11).
Beloved, we are to abide in Christ, for only as we are connected to Jesus are we able to receive from him the life-giving sap by which we will bear the spiritual fruit of love for God, love for one another, and fullness of joy. As we abide in Christ, his will becomes our will as our desires are “pruned” by the trials and sufferings of sanctification, as well as by the work of the Living Word abiding in us, transforming our hearts and minds to desire the things which Christ desires for us.
Our transformed desires will then flow out into prayers which the Father delights to answer, thus bringing glory to God the Father as he blesses and multiplies our fruit-bearing. Bearing fruit and abiding in Christ’s love is only possible as we abide in him.
In his Great High Priestly prayer, Jesus asked his Father for this very thing:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20-21).
Notice that Jesus is asking for the very state of relationship which is enjoyed between himself and the Father—“just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you”—the mutual indwelling of the Godhead. Father, Son, and Spirit are eternally in unified fellowship, unified as one essence, yet maintaining their distinctive personalities and roles.
As we abide in Christ we share with him and with one another a love, which transcends our distinctions, even while we retain our distinctive personalities, roles, and gifts. Oh beloved, as the puzzle comes together the vision is glorious. Meditate on these treasures, these desires of our Savior, and let them sink deeply into your bones, into your mind and heart, and be transformed and renewed by Christ’s loving desire for his beloved people.
Father, help me today to abide in You, even as You abide in me. May Your love so transform Your people, making us one, with the fullness of joy, that when the world looks at us they would know that You sent Jesus Christ to be the Savior and that You love us, even as You loved Him. Be glorified in us, as we abide in You.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbaranne Kelly and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know, and now Barbaranne is the Grandmommy to THREE grandboys! In October, that will change to FOUR! Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge Enjoy and be inspired by more of Barbaranne’s writing at her blog.
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