Sunday, February 10, 2013

Abiding in Christ - Abiding in Joy

So as adopted children of God, what are our Family Values

Above all, we value the Presence of God’s love. We seek to live in His Presence. John’s gospel is often used to introduce new believers to the faith. John, friend of Jesus, often referred to himself as the beloved disciple. He understood the importance of basking in God’s loving Presence and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote:
"Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. 
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. 
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:4-11 (NIV) (emphasis added)
There is so much in the above quote: so much to dwell upon... so much to understand... so many questions that flow from the verses! What does it mean to “Remain in” Christ? How do we remain in Him (once we understand what that even means!)? What does He mean by “fruit”? How do we “remain in [His] love”? And if I don't understand all this, how can my joy be complete?

I love the way that Jesus gives us the “why” here: “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” It demonstrates the essential motivation behind all His actions: He loves us and wants the best for us! My joy is dependent upon His working in my life. For my joy to be complete, His joy needs to be inside me.

Now “joy” is different from “happiness”. Happiness depends on our circumstances. I'm happy when events go my way. I find happiness in those things that please me: a good joke, a movie, some appetizing food or beverage, recognition by others, and the list goes on and on. We are happy when something pleases us.

But joy is different from happiness. It is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) (What's a fruit again??? I’ll describe it's relevance in a future blog.) And unlike happiness, it is somehow possible to find joy even in the midst of suffering; James exhorts us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), and Peter writes that we should “rejoice that [we] participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that [we] may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13) Joy flows from a confidence in a reality that cannot be seen. In other words, it comes from “faith” (Hebrews 11:1), a gift that God provides to enable the flow of His saving grace in our lives. (Ephesians 2:8) It's an awareness of the invisible truth that comes from dwelling in the very Presence of Truth. Basking, soaking, and dwelling upon God's working in our lives brings a certainty to our hearts of Who He is for us.

Next: Abiding in Christ - A Transforming Consciousness

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