Summary: Ours is a living God who can only be known through relationship.
This morning I’ld like to focus on three words from John 15 – the words of Jesus, “Abide with me”.
In John 15, Jesus talks about three vital RELATIONSHIPS. Our,
• RELATIONSHIP to Christ (Jn 15:1-17)
• RELATIONSHIP to other believers (Jn 15: 12-18)
• RELATIONSHIP to the world (Jn 15:19-27)
If I were to ask you, “What is your relationship to your mother?” how would you answer? Since there’s a good chance you’re sitting next to your mother this morning, I suggest you choose your words carefully. You might want to consider words like: love, trust, respect, appreciation. Those make for a good start.
But seriously, whatever your relationship is or was, the fact is that it’s deeply felt and very personal. Such should also be the nature of our three relationships with God– deeply felt and very personal. If you don’t feel that way – if all you feel is “okay” or “so-so” – then I suggest there’s a problem. In the Book of Revelation, such relationships are called, “lukewarm”, and that’s not so good.
The key for each of these relationships can be found in the words of Jesus quoted in John 15:4 when he said: “Abide in me.” There’s –
Three Characteristics to Abiding in Christ:
1. The first characteristic is making time.
We live in a society that runs in the fast lane almost all the time. The word “Abide” runs counter current to all this way of life. There’s a tranquility that’s assumed in the word “abide”; a tranquility that comes from spending quality time – unhurried, peaceful, reflective. For instance, you wouldn’t say, “I’ll abide in the burning house.” The images just don’t work.
Jesus was busy - much of the time, but he did take time off to draw aside and pray in the midst of a heavy schedule. We read in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, after healing many people in Capernaum:
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mk. 1:35)
Jesus set time apart without distractions. What a novel concept for this age of cell phones and remote controls!!! And by the way, that’s another good thing about Mother’s Day; we make time for a special relationship.
Charles Swindol once wrote, “Busi-ness rapes relationships. It substitutes shallow frenzy for deep friendship. It feeds the ego but starves the inner man. It fills a calendar but fractures a family.
Spending time with Christ, just like your time with your mother, isn’t about being entertained. It’s about talking and especially listening. When you’re in love and your considering a relationship for life, it’s amazing how much time you suddenly have for intimate conversations and long walks on the beach. So consider this, where God’s concerned, you’re seeking a relationship – not for life – but for eternity. So how much time is that worth?
If you take time to abide with Christ, you’ll discover that you have much more time than you ever realized. You’ll also discover that God’s an amazing conversationalist. That “still small voice” will constantly surprise you!!
As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray” (Mk 14:38) .
2. The second characteristic of "abiding in Christ" is getting to know him
The founders of all the other great world religions, Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius are all dead, but Jesus is alive. It might surprise you how much more you can learn from someone who’s alive. For one thing, the living have a way of doing the unexpected; whereas the dead tend to be rather – predictable.
When I became a Christian, my prayer life changed. I stopped giving God my wish list and hoping it would happen. Instead, I found that when I take time with God – that I actually get answers to my questions. That’s not to say I always like the answers, but I do get them.
When I became a Christian, the words of the Bible took on new significance. They seem to jump out of the page like a living Book. They spoke to me and they spoke into my life. And something else I learned – I learned that often times I had to stop talking in order to hear God speaking.
When I was teaching Middle School, I faced a problem that’s common to all teachers. I’d be giving instructions to the class, and while I was talking, one or two hands would flip up into the air. They had a question. I wasn’t finished giving the instructions, and already they had questions. My response?
“Please put your hand down,” I’d say. “When I finish the instructions, then I’ll answer questions. And besides, you might hear the answer to your questions in my instructions.” Sound familiar?