In my recent post, The Active Passive Actions of Relationship with God, I talked about how abiding in Christ (see John 15:1-11) may at first sound passive, but abiding actually requires action.
A Practical Guide to Abiding
Still, someone might ask: “How exactly do you abide in Christ though?
After all, in John 15:9, Jesus told his disciples:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
But what does that mean? What does it look like on any given Wednesday, for example, for me to abide in the love of Christ?”
Thankfully, Jesus answered that question for us!
In John 15:10, here’s what Jesus said:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
So, the way to abide in Jesus’ love is to keep his commandments.
This is interesting, because just a few verses later Jesus says:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)
This is interesting because it tells us that there is a good and proper motivation for obeying God’s commandments: love for God and a desire to abide in his love.
Obeying God Matters, But It Also Matters Why You Obey God
Obeying God’s commandments matters. Consider what God told King Saul:
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
But when it comes to obeying God, why you obey God also matters very much. It is possible to obey God for the wrong reasons. If your reason for obeying God is self-justification or self-glorification, you will find yourself in the position of being in opposition to God. As we are told in James 4:6,
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
On the other hand, if you love someone, and you want to express your love for them, if you want to experience the joy of fellowship with them, what do you do? You find out what they like, what they love, what makes them happy and brings them joy, and you do those things!
An Example: My Wife’s Birthday
My wife’s birthday is coming up. Knowing the things that she likes, what if I were to say: “I don’t have to do those things in order to win her love, since she already loves me. Therefore I will do nothing, because I don’t have to earn her love.”
Of course my wife will love me even if I don’t do anything for her birthday. However, because I love her and want to share a great experience with her (since intimacy is created through shared experiences), I want to do something for her that she will like. Thus, in my pursuit of her, in my desire to know her, one of my goals is to discover her likes and dislikes and do things she likes; not to earn her love, but as an expression of my love for her, and as a way of having fellowship with her.
In the same way, we can express love for God and experience fellowship with God by doing the things that we know He likes!
For more on this topic, see: “Oh, How I Love Your Law” – the Role of the Law in the Life of a Believer
May we be those who abide in Christ’s love, just as He abided in the love of the Father!