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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Abiding in Christ Changes Everything

John 15:7 (ESV)
7  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

I have stopped trying to believe in Jesus. I have stopped trying to trust in Jesus. I believe the relationship with Jesus must go much deeper than I previously thought. I believe I must identify with Jesus.

This means I find my own identity in Jesus rather than merely believing that He is the Son of God or trusting that He has paid for my sins. Of course, these are foregone conclusions if I truly identify with Him and thus find my identity in Him.

I come along beside Jesus when I identify with Him. He does not need to change. I come without any hidden agenda. I come openly with a complete commitment to whatever He wants. My own desires are made to match His.

This comes because I abide, remain, or live in Him. He becomes my life. This, too, has changed my relationship. Jesus will always be the Master. He will be the One I will listen to, obey and emulate in my character. But instead of calling myself a rotten old sinner all the time I acknowledge that He is changing me by His presence in my life. One way is found in my praying. I pray what He desires. I know, therefore, that He will answer it exactly as it is prayed.

Three things keep me from this abiding in Him: The devil and his demons, the world and my own flesh. The demonic forces work to keep me focused on anything but my relationship with Jesus. I am powerless without Him. I can be easily controlled as long as I continue to operate without Him. The demons will not make me realize that I have abandoned Him. I will state that I am fully following Jesus unless I turn honestly to Him and ask where I am. The key is being honest.

The world seeks to draw me a way just as much as the demons. The world seeks to make me like those in the world who are without Jesus. The world says that it is more urgent than my daily time with God. The world says that it doesn't matter if I really connect in my relationship as long as I read the scriptures. The world will criticize me if I don't act like it expects.

My own flesh demands its own selfishness. It wants to return to the life that merely checks the box when asked if I have faith in Christ. It does not wish to comply. It hates the discipline necessary to set aside the things it wants to do in order to sit at the feet of Jesus each day.

A consistent life of relating to Christ by identifying with Him causes me to conform to His image. The resulting person knows the Father because Jesus knows His Father. The character is changed so thoroughly that the whole person becomes someone he wouldn't have become without this relationship. The thoughts become the same thoughts as God because God reveals His own desires to the one who abides in Him.

Prayer becomes markedly different. It will always remain a means of seeking His will but that will becomes plain. Denials are accepted. Requests are modified. Answers are opportunities for faith to grow and glory to be given.

Yet, I see many people  who live their Christian lives as if Jesus is Someone who died for them but has never had any interaction. They see Him as silent as someone in a coffin. They know He exists because of testimony and history but they do not hear Him speak. They do not know Him as their living Lord.

This means that prayer never becomes anything more than a checklist left for a silent God who may or may not answer. There isn't much difference between this relationship and those who leave food at the base of idols. These idols never speak or move. The difference is that God is not seen.

Then you have a God of the rules rather than the God who truly loves us in a relationship. Then you have a God with whom there is a dry worship which is only ritual. The worshiper doesn't even know if God is in the room.

Yes, abiding in Christ is very different.


Anthony Chia said...

Mr GetMe What-I-want, "I have discovered the secret to getting whatever we want, from God!"

Mr Believe-Not, "Are you sure?! I have been at this, searching the Word, for years, and still cannot find anything close to it that can work!"

Mr GetMe What-I-want, "There, this verse-lah - If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7). It said, "whatever you wish, and it will be done for you".

Mr Believe-Not, "There are conditions there, you-know!" It said you need to abide in The Lord, and His Word to abide in you, before the "whatever"!

Mr GetMe What-I-want, "So, abide-lah, in The Lord."

What does it mean, to abide?

The Greek word is G3306 - meno, and when we look it up in the Lexicon, the relevant meaning is stated as "to remain". But what does it mean, to remain in a person like here, to remain in The Lord? To remain in a place, that is not difficult to understand, but to remain in The Lord, what does it mean? Did Jesus explain it?

Yes, He did! And we must get it right, or we will come to the conclusion, often Mr Believe-Not expressed, "it doesn't work-le!" And I won't be surprised, after he gets the understanding which I will explain of Jesus' definition, Mr Believe-Not would exclaim this, too - "it is a Catch-22!"

What did Jesus say, as abide or remain in Him? The John 15 text, from which we took the verse from, talked about the vine and branch. Jesus said that the branch must abide or remain in the vine; if NOT, the branch will be useless and it's fate is only one - into the fire. Only when the branch remains in the vine is the branch able to be of use, to bear fruit, for example. When the branch remains or abides, there will be the seamless flow from the vine to the branch, of water and minerals which the branch needs to stay alive and to bear fruit.

In other words, we, like the branch, must first be grafted into the vine, if we are NOT, already. When correctly grafted, we become plugged in, to the vine, and we are to continue to remain so. We must want to, persist to, and in fact, remain plugged in, to the vine which is here the metaphorical representation of The Lord. The problem with many of us is that we frequently "unplugged" ourselves, i.e. we don't remain or abide.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

When we cut off a small branch from a vine, and we plunge the cut-end in a bottle of water, the branch can continue to live, as it takes in, the fluid inside the bottle. If you put in, the appropriate water and minerals or the "nutrient" for the branch, we can keep the branch going for a while; it may even continue to flower. Away from the vine, the branch takes in, what the bottle gives it. When we, as the grafted branch, abide or remain in the vine or The Lord, we get what the vine or The Lord gives to us, just like the bottle of fluid gives to the branch. Instead of taking from the "world-bottle", we take from the vine or The Lord. The way Jesus put it, is that his words (the Word) abides in us. God's word is food (Matt 4:4) for us, just as in the natural (the metaphor), the branch takes its nutrient from the vine.

And so, we have just explained what it means to abide in The Lord, and His words abide in us.

At this point, Mr Believe-Not, probably would chip in, and say, "Still it does NOT work for me-le! I wanted the big, big bungalow and car, and cash, lots of it, and the fame, of my neighbour who does NOT give a hoot to integrity so long as he is NOT the one disadvantaged; NOT to mention, he believes only in himself. But I got none of it, not even the big car!"

Well, well, well, Mr Believe-Not, you are NOT abiding or remaining in The Lord, and so, too, the Word is abiding NOT, in you. If you are indeed abiding in The Lord, you wouldn't be wanting all of that, regardless!

"Then, it is a Catch-22, isn't NOT", would be the exclamation of Mr Believe-Not.

Yes, I can agree it is Catch-22, but this Catch-22 is good one; good for us. Unlike common Catch-22, there is no malaise here, at all. Only in so, we can bear the right fruit; only in so, we can grow in holiness; only in so, we can grow in godliness; and only in so, we can hope to see God.

Mr Believe-Not did NOT get it; a grape vine does not have its branch bear durians, but grapes. If the branch is really "plugged in" or abides or remains, it cannot but bear grapes, NOT durians. In other words, what the branch or we want, can no longer be what the branch or we want, if it is NOT what the vine or The Lord wants.

Mr GetMe What-I-want, I am sorry to disappoint you, too; it is NOT exactly what you want, it will be done for you, unless because the Word is abiding in you, because you are abiding in The Lord, and the Word has worked on your heart that your wishes are now in line with what The Lord wants done, that it will be done for you.

How then do we know if we are abiding in The Lord? When His Word abides in us. How do you we know the Word is abiding in us? When we are Christ-like; and our heart is identified with the heart of The Lord, and so, our wishes are His wishes. And when it is His wishes, would He NOT do it!

Do NOT just simply claim the promise that whatever you wish, it will be done for you, without checking if what you are wishing is in line with His Word.

Ps Prentis is absolutely correct, abiding in The Lord Jesus Christ changes everything, including our wishes.

May God bless the reading of this comment.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions