John 14:15–21, 15:1–12
In some sense, the entire New Testament outside of the Gospels can be summarized by “abide and obey.” We see Jesus doing just that throughout the Gospels, and commanding his followers to do the same going forward. The Epistles are centered around what it means and how it looks to abide and obey. As you read today in John 14 and 15, it is important to note that these two things are intimately linked. For example, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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” (John 15:9–10 ESV).
Obeying is abiding. Abiding is obeying. The themes of obedience, God’s active presence through his Holy Spirit, complete joy, and real love are all wrapped up together.
As we’ve learned, one of the key works of the Holy Spirit is transforming each one of us to be more and more like Jesus. Cooperation with the Spirit in this work involves surrendering to God and obeying him as he reveals his will.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice’the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom. 12:1–2 NLT)
It’s submitting to God’s will—making his will more important than our will—and then doing what he tells us to do. It’s starting what he commands to start, continuing what he tells us to continue, and ending what he desires us to end.
A final thought about abiding and obeying. In our abiding, we need to be aware of God’s grace to us in our failures to obey. It is so easy for us to slip into a human-centered religious perspective that makes obeying the prerequisite for God being present with us in love. God pursued us and Jesus died for us while we were sinners; his love is not earned by our obedience.
Review your calendar over the past two weeks or start today and review each day forward for two weeks. Take note of the time you spend abiding in God’spending time focused on him and his presence in your life. Also look for time munchers—activities that produce no fruit in terms of loving God, loving others, serving God, or serving others. Ask God to renew your mind about these activities and try to create space to abide more in God as you eliminate fruitless activity.
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