Saturday, November 6, 2010

Abide. Remain. Be Still.

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 76

Read: John 6:1-John 15:17

Verse that stood out:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing - John 15:5.

One of the most difficult things to do in life is just be. Have you ever noticed that? To wait. To continue on with the slow deliberate prodding that bring success. We want things now and in a hurry. Diet and Exercise take too long to reduce the inches; we want pills or surgeries that give instant results. We don’t want to work and save; we’d rather win the lottery. Just look at the poor careers of coaches and CEO’s. I’ve decided I never want to be either of those professions. A coach is given one, maybe two years to turn around a program that hasn’t seen a win in a decade. A CEO’s success is not measured even in years anymore, but in quarters. We want success and we want it now.

This desire for quick results bleeds over into our spiritual lives. We want things easy and we want them quick. We want the three spiritual laws to happiness. Just implement these three things today and by this afternoon you’ll be a spiritual giant. We think a weekend conference or that new paper back book that can be read in a couple of afternoons will bring about instant Christian maturity. We want the feeling of maturity, without the work to achieve it. Preachers jump on the bandwagon with the 10 keys to success at everything. I’m not trying to be critical, I’m sure much of what they say is good and applicable and helpful, but to me it just gives the wrong impression. Can spiritual maturity really come about in 10 easy steps?

Jesus seems to take a different angle. In several agonizing chapters in the gospel of John, he leaves his disciples with some last instructions on what it means to be a disciple. He promises them the guiding of the Holy Spirit. He talks a good long while about obedience. He talks about his own impending persecution and death and then also about the disciples’ similar fates. Nothing sounds easy, nothing sounds quick. Right in the middle of this last discourse we find these words “If a [person] remains in me and I in him . . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you . . . remain in my love . . . remain in the [Father’s] love.” I like the NASB and the KJV, “Abide in me.” Abide isn't a word we use very much. It means the same as remain, it just sounds slower, more permanent. Maybe because so many of us don’t remain anywhere for very long. Ours is a culture on the go. We want to rush to the promise, “Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you . . . you will bear much fruit . . . your joy may be complete.” We want the result without the stipulation. Abide. Remain. Be still.

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