STAYING CLOSE TO CHRIST

Abide in me, and I in you. – John 15:4

Are you currently close to Jesus? Is his presence and impact evidenced in your life? In John 15 Jesus teaches us that it’s vitally important that his disciples actively remain in relationship with him. He explains that our fruitfulness in mission, growth in grace and fullness of joy is at stake.

You might say, “I agree, but what does a life lived close to Jesus look like? Are there visible affects of disciples dwelling daily in relationship with God?” Good questions, let’s look.

Humility

When we are abiding in Jesus our lives begin to take the shape of his. We begin to love what he loves; seeing and caring for people as he does. Christians are grace saved sinners. That means, we’ve felt the weight of our guilt before God and experienced, through faith, the liberating freedom of Christ’s redeeming work in our lives. The cross humbles us. It rescues us from selfish pride into humble rejoicing. The more we think of God’s loving sacrifice, at the expense of himself, to save unloving sinners the more our souls melt for him in worship and service to others. The reality that God laid his life down for me, moves my heart to lay my life down for others.

Are your attitudes and actions marked by gospel abiding humility?

Holiness

There has been a tremendous resurgence in the doctrines of grace over the past several years. I am profoundly grateful for this in my own life and have seen first hand the powerful affects of it in countless others who lived under the joy crushing weight of rule driven religion. Sadly I’ve also noticed a disturbing trend. Many folks, under a banner of “grace”, begin cherry picking the commands of scripture, taking “free in Christ” to mean free from obedience and free to sin. Paul addresses this misappropriation of grace at length in Romans 6-7 so I’ll encourage us to read his words not mine.

Christians are not set free by grace to ignore the law but to enjoy it. Before salvation the law condemned us in chains us as slaves. In Christ God’s good commands guide us into liberty and love. We are saved by grace from from a self saving life of “got to” into a mercy pardoned life of “get to”. God’s standard of holiness for his people has not changed, our desire for it has been redeemed. We have become “obedient form the heart”. It’s now our delight to honor God through holiness. When we are clinging closely to Jesus we will find ourselves less tolerant of our sin, giving fewer excuses for disobedience and joyously willing to fulfill his commands.

Are your exploits abounding in grace abiding holiness?

Happiness

Finally, when we are remaining in the presence of Jesus love, joy is plentiful. “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

There is nothing so heavy pressing upon my soul that time spent marveling at the love of God for me in Christ Jesus cannot lift. Is the Christian never sad? Surely not. Does the Follower never find himself in darkness and despair? Impossible in this world. We cannot; however, abide in Christ and constantly wear a frown. A heart not warmed by time sitting by the fires of grace is one that has yet to beat with eternal life.

Are you overwhelmed and saddened by circumstance? Withered from lack of abiding and worried by the things of this world? Open his word and listen. Lay yourself before him in prayer. Reach for his scar marked hands and linger in the loving radiance of his glory. Ponder anew what it cost him to rescue you from sin, Satan and death. Rehearse once more what was lost for your gain and what it cost to call you friend. Tears of repentance will once again bring about a harvest of joy.

Are your troubles accompanied by grace abiding happiness?

Now you might be saying to yourself, “that’s not me…well at least not all three”. Let me just say, that’s ok. The point is for us to hold our lives up to his light and see what shadows we cast; allowing the truth and grace of the gospel to form us into greater reflections of him.

Conviction is not condemnation, it’s an invitation. Go to him. Spend time with him in the word and on your knees in worship. Confess where there is less of him in your life. Repent of the things grab your attention and keep you from enjoying his presence. Share your convictions with others in your church and ask them to walk with you in encouragement and accountability. God has promised to finish the work he began in you and he is always faithful to his word. Ask, act, abide and expect. Revival and renewal awaits.

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