For a past few weeks in 1 John, over and over again the theme of abiding has emerged. I asked Monica Warren to journal some thoughts in her mind around this idea (Monica is one of the coordinators for the Women’s Prayer Retreat this Fall which has chosen the theme “Abide” for their time together). Here’s her musings these days…
Come and Rest
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus calls us and pulls us into Him with those gentle words: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This verse may tend to be too familiar to us. Jesus has made a way of salvation, a way for His disciples to rest eternally with Him. We know this. I know this. But what I believe Jesus knew of His first disciples such as the Apostle John, and what He knows of us in this day is that we would soon forget this truth, that we wouldn’t stay there in that restful state with Him while on this earth. We would again and again become weary – again and again try to find rest in the world and its allures. When I muse on what it really means to abide in Jesus (something our pastor and elders have been exhorting us to do for months now), I can’t help but think of John and his personal relationship, his friendship with Jesus. We have such convincing evidence in John’s gospel and epistles that he knew and wanted us to know how to rest and truly abide in Jesus.
The One Whom Jesus Loved
Many times in John’s gospel he calls himself “the one whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7; 21:20). John knew Jesus’ face, the emotion in his eyes, the looks of love, mercy and even holy frustration He may have given him. John saw and was convinced that Jesus’ every action was motivated perfectly, expressed with sinless emotion. Wouldn’t you want to be with, abide in someone with perfect emotional expression, someone whom you knew perfectly loved you? John felt His physical presence as evidenced through his recollection of reclining next to Jesus at the dinner table in John 13:23. Just imagine that intimate moment, and notice it is recorded so close to the Abide language used in John 15. John was not only hearing the exhortations from Jesus to abide, John saw Jesus abide in His Father as they walked on this earth together on mission. I also think of Jesus’ supernatural Revelation to John and how the abiding theme can even be seen in John’s last book (which Dawn Rhoades will show us). There is no one better in all of history, in all of scripture, I believe, to teach us and plead with us to abide in Jesus’ presence than the Apostle John.
Stay and Abide
I don’t think we will fully know and experience Jesus’ abiding presence as John did, but what I pray is that I, that we in this day, would reach the place where we are not thinking of ourselves anymore. When sin threatens to invade our mind and affections, we stay in His rest considering Jesus’ power over sin, Satan, and remember His work of forgiveness. When we are tempted to be sorrowfully self-absorbed, we abide in Jesus and think of others instead, seeking how we may fulfill their needs Jesus wants met. After all, how will they see and know Jesus if not through our service to them and by our proclamation of Him? God the Holy Spirit chose and empowered John to be a vessel of this good news to us, and Jesus has chosen us to walk as vessels delivering this gospel to our community and beyond. The only way we will know where Jesus wants us to go next, what He wants us to do tomorrow, is if we abide in Him. It is a person we cling to, not a set of rules, not simply a message of good news, but a living, perfectly loving person who empowers us. Jesus is His name…the same person John walked with on this earth hundreds of years ago is the same person we are called to abide in now. While we are in this place that is not our home, I pray John 15:5 echos in our hearts. May we never forget that if we are apart from Christ while on this earth we can do nothing…nothing that lasts for eternity.
At our annual 2015 Women’s Prayer Retreat, several women of Crestview who have shown to be not only women of prayer, but women who truly abide in Jesus will be encouraging us with content on this very subject. I look forward to their wisdom and invite all women who are weary and heavy laden to come find rest…and abide with us in His loving presence. (Here’s a link to the event on Crestview’s website)