Abide in My love

John 15:9-10

9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

10 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.”

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have had one: the middle-school crush. One day we’re getting on the school bus or hanging out with friends at lunch and suddenly there he or she is. She’s beautiful in a way that other girls aren’t. He’s handsome in a grown-up, perhaps even a bad-boy sort of way. We start courting as best we can. I used to talk with her friends to find out if she likes someone else, and to know what it is she does like. After a while I’d get up the courage to pass her a note: “You’re pretty” or something like that. And then came the fateful day—usually just a week or so before a school dance or friend’s big party—when we finally write that all-important note that demands a response:

“I really like you. Do you like me? YES NO (Circle one)”

We’d pass the note early in the day, hoping for a response by lunch time—you know, so we could sit with our newly beloved one. We’d watch the minutes pass slowly by in class, and keep an eye out for the object of our affection in the hallway between classes. Time would pass, and then…perhaps just as lunch is ending…perhaps just as we are getting on the bus…the note is returned to us. The verdict is YES!

And then we crumble up the note and throw it away, and go on with our lives like nothing ever happened, right?

Of course not! We don’t ignore the note! We find a way to sit with our beloved on the bus or at lunch. We arrange trysts (although today it would just be “hanging out”), and we call or text each other. Today we might change our status on online social networks to say we are “in a relationship.” Woohoo! We start learning what he or she likes, and we share our likes, our dreams, our hopes and fears. We meet our beloved’s family. (I still joke that I get along famously with kids, pets, and mothers-in-law.) In short, our life changes.

Well, it changes for as long as the crush lasts. The teenage heart is fickle, and before too long our beloved has decided he or she likes someone else better. Or, perhaps we are the one who moves on. We don’t stay in love like that for very long, despite the notes and bad poetry that say otherwise.

Now imagine if you had written that same note to Jesus:

“Do You love me? YES NO (Circle one)”

Needless to say, His answer will always be an emphatic YES.

And then we crumble up the note and throw it away, and go on with our lives like nothing ever happened, right?

Unfortunately, most people do just that. When some people have come to Jesus, they hear that He loves them just as they are—broken, scarred, sinful—and they bask in that warm, fuzzy feeling of love and acceptance. And then they go right back to where they were and being who they were before. They don’t seek out their new Beloved One, they don’t make time for Him, and they don’t try to change their lives to match His. Like a middle-school crush, they “love” Him for a while and then move on.

But despite our fickle hearts, Jesus never stops loving us.

In today’s passage, Jesus gives us an interesting way to think about His love and our love for Him. He says we are to “abide” in His love. That word in Greek is μεινατε (“meinate”), which is a command from the verb μένω (“menō”) which means to stay, to continue, to abide. It’s where we get our modern-day words “remain” and “mansion.” Jesus is telling us that when we come into the sphere of His love—i.e. when we accept His love by repentance and belief in Him as Savior—then we are to STAY THERE. It’s not a place we are ever meant to leave…and yet so many do.

Jesus even tells us HOW to remain in His love, how to dwell there, how to abide there:

“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.”

We stay in Jesus’ love by keeping His commandments—and, by extension, the commandments of the Father, which Jesus Himself kept. Jesus told us that all the law and the prophets hang (depend) on two commandments: love God with all our heart and mind and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40) If we truly love God, then His law becomes our law, what offends Him offends us, and whom He loves we love–which is to say, everyone. God’s love is so great that when we were His enemies, He still sent His Son to die for us. (Romans 5:8-10) As Jesus goes on to say after the verses above:

John 15:12-14

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

How DID Jesus love us? He circled YES on our note with His blood when He gave His life to take away our sins! He took our imperfections, our iniquities, our rebellion, our SIN upon Himself, and He nailed it to the cross forever more. And now that He has done that, He expects us to stay, remain, abide where His love has gotten us! Just as He selflessly and sinlessly followed the Father’s commandments and even died for us, so, too, are we to adhere to God’s commandments and also selflessly love one another and be willing to die for each other. We are to change our lives forever, not just for a fortnight or until some whim of our hearts leads us astray.

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Jesus is not some middle-school crush. He is the greatest love of our lives. This is not meant to be some fleeting romance but a lifelong commitment to a changed life. Be renewed, be transformed, my friends! Now that Jesus has responded to us with a resounding YES, let us not return nor remain where we once were, but let us follow God’s commandments and abide in His love forever.

Precious Lord, dearest Father, help us always to remain in Your love. Guide us in the way everlasting, that we might always be Your sons and daughters. Amen.

© 2014 Glenn A. Pettit

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About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and husband to a beautiful wife and the father of four lovely kids. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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