Sometimes we, as followers of Jesus Christ, complicate our faith. Corporately, we bog down in theological discussions and get hung up on church politics, sometimes splitting our congregations over issues of little consequence. Individually, we strive in our own strength to please God and then berate ourselves when we fall short. We wander through wilderness experiences sometimes because of our own choices, and we question God’s presence when the going gets tough despite His repeated promises to never leave us.
What’s with all that? Maybe it’s time to get back to basics.
John 15 is one of my favorite Bible passages. In it, Christ speaks passionately with His disciples. He knew His death was only hours away, so He didn’t waste His breath chattering about this and that. He addressed the issues that really matter.
Christ repeated a particular word numerous times in this passage: remain (NLT). Some versions translate it as abide. Regardless of the translation, it’s obviously a key concept or He wouldn’t bring it up over and over again. Here are a few insights I’ve been pondering about this word as it relates to my relationship with Him…
- How does a person remain in Christ’s love? That’s an easy answer – by obeying His commands. “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (v. 10).
Obeying Christ means doing what He’s told us to do – loving other people, aligning our thoughts with what’s right and true, refusing to gossip or life, maintaining a life of sexual purity, giving thanks in all things, and so forth. Obeying Him means we acknowledge Him as our Lord. He’s at the steering wheel; we’re not. We’re cooperating with Him rather than fighting against Him. That’s how we remain in Him. Simple, eh?
- What are the blessings given to those who remain in Christ? There are several, and they’re all incredible. First, they live fruitful lives (v. 5). The means by which that’s accomplished differs from person to person, but the end result is the same – they impact others for eternity. Second, they can ask anything they wish from God and He’ll answer their prayers (v. 7). Their hearts will be so in tune with Him that their requests will reflect His priorities and desires, therefore, their prayers are guaranteed an answer. How sweet is that? Third, they experience overflowing joy (v. 11). No matter what life brings, they know joy because they know and trust Jesus with the details. And last, they enjoy friendship with Jesus (v. 14). Imagine that – friendship with one who’s all-wise, all-powerful, always faithful, and always loving. It doesn’t get much better than that!
This is just a snippet of the goodies in John 15. My blog word count can’t do it justice, but hopefully I’ve communicated the essence of Christ’s message when He taught the disciples about what really matters. If we, as individual believers, get back to spiritual basics and make it our personal goal to remain in Christ, everything else falls into place.
Any thoughts? What insights do you have from this passage? What practical steps do you take to remain in Christ?