Abide in Me

John 15 was on our CBR agenda yesterday.  It’s a stunning chapter of Jesus illustrating himself as the vine, we as the branches, and the Father being the gardener.  Repeatedly Jesus implores us to “abide or remain in me.”  And he cites a specific reason to abide in Him: it’s the key to fruitfulness or bearing good fruit.

Listen to Alexander Maclaren’s commentary on this passage – “How union with Jesus is sure to issue in fruitfulness.”

It means, on the part of professedly Christian people, a temper and tone of mind very far remote from the noisy, bustling distractions too common in our present Christianity. We want quiet, patient waiting within the veil. We want stillness of heart, brought about by our own distinct effort to put away from ourselves the strife of tongues and the pride of life. We want activity, no doubt, but we want a wise passiveness as its foundation.

Get away into the ‘secret place of the Most High,’ and rise into a higher altitude and atmosphere than the region of work and effort; and sitting still with Christ, let His love and His power pour themselves into your hearts. ‘Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee.’ Get away from the jangling of politics, and empty controversies and busy distractions of daily duty. The harder our toil necessarily is, the more let us see to it that we keep a little cell within the central life where in silence we hold communion with the Master. ‘Abide in Me and I in you.’

That is the way to be fruitful, rather than by efforts after individual acts of conformity and obedience, howsoever needful and precious these are. There is a deeper thing wanted than these. The best way to secure Christian conduct is to cultivate communion with Christ. It is better to work at the increase of the central force than at the improvement of the circumferential manifestations of it. Get more of the sap into the branch, and there will be more fruit. Have more of the life of Christ in the soul, and the conduct and the speech will be more Christlike. We may cultivate individual graces at the expense of the harmony and beauty of the whole character. We may grow them artificially and they will be of little worth – by imitation of others, by special efforts after special excellence, rather than by general effort after the central improvement of our nature and therefore of our life. But the true way to influence conduct is to influence the springs of conduct; and to make a man’s life better, the true way is to make the man better. First of all be, and then do; first of all receive, and then give forth; first of all draw near to Christ, and then there will be fruit to His praise. That is the Christian way of mending men, not tinkering at this, that, and the other individual excellence, but grasping the secret of total excellence in communion with Him.

Did you believe that I loved you?

Our church uses the Community Bible Reading Journal as a means to learn the heart of God through reading His Word daily. Recently, we read John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

We live in “do” culture. Book stores are filled with “How to do…” books with some tailored for folks like me: “______ For Dummies.” The church can also be a “do” culture, a meritocracy that rewards achievers. If you are truly spiritual, then do this and this and this and this and then that. We tend to determine our justification solely on the basis of our sanctification, which is a fancy way of saying the gift of the God’s grace is measured by how much we do to earn it or reimburse God for it.

Jesus is crystal clear on this topic. He says, “You want me to tell you how to do spiritually? Ok, believe in me… Do faith… Trust in my works, not yours.” This challenges us. We are all doers – take the bull by horns and git ‘er done. And Jesus tells us that we must “do” belief in Him. Brennan Manning says “I am now utterly convinced that on judgement day, the Lord Jesus will ask one question and one question only: Did you believe that I loved you?”

Growth

The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes.
~ Thomas Watson