Friday, July 12, 2013

Abiding in His Love

Bold Love

Wednesday night I had the privilege of studying John 15:9-17 to discuss our Lord's amazing love to us. But I had a problem, it was impossible to study this small section without looking at the context which it came in.

Context. Love is the motivation

John 13:1 serves as the springboard for all the action. Here, we are told that Christ was moved to love his own to the very end. Then he launches into the following activities:
  • Wash the disciple's feet (13:5-20)
  • Show grace to his traitor (13:21-27)
  • Set a new commandment (13:34-35)
  • Send a Comforter/Helper ((14:16, 25)
  • Give a place to abide (15:1-17)
  • Give a Guide to truth (16:13)
  • Assure us we have an advocate with the Father (16:25-28
  • Pray on our behalf (17)

Love, it is Christ's great motivator. In fact, if you take the "Abide in" statements from John 15:4,9, He equates himself to his love as follows:

the vine = my love = me

Allow me to paraphrase, "I am the same as my love."

Immediate Context. Vine and Branches

John 15 presents us with the Vine - Branch relationship. This says some great things about Christ's love to us. We receive a lot of blessing from the vine, namely:
  • Security
  • Stability
  • Strength
  • Sufficiency
  • Survival

Note that the branch is an extension of the vine, the converse does not work. This is not a symbiotic relationship. We are to abide in him like a branch is in the vine drawing nutrition. He abides in us like a vine is in the branch providing nutrition. There's a huge difference between the two, though they are abiding in each other.

The Text. John 15

English: tomato plant with fruit. മലയാളം: തക്ക...
English: tomato plant with fruit. മലയാളം: തക്കാളിച്ചെടി. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Verse 9 tells us that self-love and loving others is a means of abiding in his love. Remember that we are told to love others as we love ourselves. Without a healthy self-love, we cannot love others. A healthy self-love means knowing your worth in a right relation to others. Remember that we were created with great value (Gen. 1:31) and as believers we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), redeemed because God saw value in us. I think it is a danger to devalue ourselves. We clearly are worth something to God despite our fall from grace.

Verses 10-12 show us how obedience can be a means of abiding in his love. Remember Samuel's declaration that God requires obedience and not sacrifice? Jesus affirmed this statement in Matt. 9:13 & 12:7. However, he added some nuance to this statement. He basically equated Obedience to Compassion (Kindness/Goodwill), which is a form of Love. Remember, your level of obedience shows the value you place on the other person. More love = more obedience.

Verses 13-15 gives us the most difficult principle, sacrifice as a means of abiding in his love. Here, we are given Christ's act of sacrificial love as the model of perfection. He is the greatest example of the greatest lover. We are challenged to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for one another as Christ has for us. Here is a good measurement of your willingness to do this; ask yourself this question, "Do I make routine small sacrifices for my brothers and sisters?" That is probably enough to sober anyone up. Then extend that question from brothers and sisters to acquaintances, strangers and enemies. We will likely be humbled by the very thought.

Finally, verses 16-17 show us that bearing fruit is a result of abiding in his love. Here is where the context really proves useful. Remember that the branch can do nothing outside of the vine. We don't choose to bear fruit, we choose to obey Christ who is the source of all goodness in our spiritual lives. Only then will our fruit be a testimony to the world of Christ's undying love.

Bold love is not a solitary act, it should be the source that influences every action.

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Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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