Summary: Christianity isn’t about DUTY it is all about RELATIONSHIP
Let us open in prayer
Father, I pray that you will anoint my words this evening that they may be words for each of us from you. I ask what I say may be relevant in our Christian lives. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Maddy and I moved to Frisby from New Romney at the end of 2007
Story: As we were taking the bedroom apart, I was surprised to find a small basket underneath our bed with three eggs and £1000.
I was a bit puzzled and so I called Maddy and asked her what this was all about.
She said: “Well I have to be honest with you. Every time you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the basket.”
I thought – well three bad sermons in 3 years – not bad going.
But I was still puzzled – “Well, what is the £1000 about”
She replied, as wives always do : “Every time I got a dozen, I sold them”.
I hope this evening won’t be an egg sermon!!
This evening I would like to focus on three words in John 15 and these are the words of Jesus when he said “Abide with me”.
Christianity – in my opinion – is NOT a religion. Let me explain.
For me a religion – is all about DUTY - what WE do to earn salvation or placate an angry God
Take Islam – and I am not knocking it. Islam is very much a religion of DUTY
Muslims have to “do things” – like praying five times a day, observing the Feast of Ramadan, giving to the poor, going on a Hajj… - and hope their prayers and deeds will outweigh what they have done wrong.
Christianity is different
It is all about RELATIONSHIPS – and what Christ has DONE for us – that we receive as a free gift
And John 15 is a chapter in which Jesus talks about RELATIONSHIPS.
RELATIONSHIP to Christ (Jn 15:1-17)
RELATIONSHIP to other believers Jn 15: 12-18 &
RELATIONSHIP to the world (Jn 15:19-27)
When Jesus spoke about abiding in Him, I thought of three characteristics of the word.
1. The first characteristic of “abiding in Christ” 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 that. There is a tranquillity about it.
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 a particular town:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mk. 1:35)
Story: Back in 2003, I went off to Oxford - bird watching at Pinkhill Reserve at Farmoor Reservoir.
Now I hasten to add, I hadn’t myself
planned to go bird watching.
Maddy and I decided to go down the 25th Wedding Anniversary of good friends of ours from Oxford, Sally and Francis Prittie.
What I didn’t realise was that Francis was an avid bird watcher.
And for part of their silver wedding celebrations, he had organised a group of us to go bird watching.
I spent the week trying to find any excuse to get out of bird watching.
But I couldn’t find a good excuse - so off bird watching I rather reluctantly went.
However, once we got to the hide on Pinkhill Reserve, I found it fascinating watching the common terns, the teal (small ducks), Canada geese with goslings, Coots and Cormorants.
And after an hour when Francis said,” let’s go” I felt like saying: What do you mean - I want to stay!!
I wanted to ABIDE in the hide!
And as I thought about it, I realised that my bird watching experience was a parable about abiding in Christ.
How often do we feel that it is a drag to go to pray.
We are too busy for that.
Yet may I commend it to you.
Spending time with Jesus – Abiding with Jesus - can be very rewarding. And you might find yourself, as I did last weekend in the hide – not wanting to leave.
If we take time to abide with Christ, we will have time to listen – as the hymn writer John G Whittier put it - to that “still small voice of calm” (in the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of mankind” - v. 5).