Banking on Abiding
And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.1 John 2:28
Do you remember the famous Coppertone ad with the little dog hanging on the bathing suit of the little girl exposing her tanline (actually, way past her tanline)? Well, I think we got a little dog of our own trying to do the same thing to our confidence in the reality of abiding. For we read a verse like this and everything about the miraculous work of Christ by which HE brought us into union (like a branch in the vine) with the living God BY HIMSELF seems to take a back seat to OUR fluctuating attempts to keep it going! It is thinking like this that has caused us to fall into the habit of trying to balance the miraculous work of Christ.
Aren't you aware that this is the same kind of fear that most of us grew up with as children? Every time we wondered if mommy or daddy might disown us based on our naughtiness we were supposing that our relationship was built upon our ability to keep it going instead of the fact that we had been BORN into this family (yeah, even mommies and daddies forget that sometimes, don't they?). It's easy to forget the permanent reality while you are caught up in a temporary situation that SEEMS more real. As children, we knew the most direct way to destroy confidence in a brother or a sister was to question their origin, while the more subtle approach of focusing on performance caused a slow (but continual) erosion of confidence because it played off the faulty premise that our performance is the substance of our relationship.
John was BANKING upon the reality of abiding in his letter to these believers for they were being deceived by some supposedly more spiritual people in their gatherings. These deceivers came across as being such spiritual giants that it became a stigma of spiritual inferiority to be honest about the harsh realities and failings of one's everyday life (confession of sin).
Doesn't that sound like the atmosphere in many fellowships today where to admit your REAL failings would only make it obvious just how unspiritual you really are? But John made it clear that those who CLAIM spotless performance are the ones who are deceived while those who have the COMPELLING to be honest about their failures are the ones who are forgiven. This has nothing to do with confession being the CAUSE of forgiveness - no, no, no! - instead, this NEED to be honest is something that comes from the heart of those who ARE forgiven!! Just read the account in John 9 and pay attention to the honesty of the man who was formerly blind and contrast that to the hypocrisy of those who sought to discredit both that man and Jesus while trying to come across as being righteous.
Here's what I mean by saying that John was banking upon the reality of abiding. One who abides in Christ describes one who has the life of God within him while his own life is in God. If this was merely hypothetical then nothing would actually be changed in those who are called believers. BUT if this is, in fact, a REAL joining of God and a person then it will have a profound effect upon such a person, would it not? Now, many have discarded such proofs simply because they have been deceived as to the NATURE of those proofs. And this is no different than it was when the Pharisees determined that JESUS could not be of God based upon their PERCEPTION of how well He rated by the law of God.
It remains so today as those who are of the law are judging those who are of the Spirit and STILL finding them totally lacking. And not only this, but many who are of the Spirit have been deceived into thinking that those who judge by the written word of God (read that: the LAW) have some kind of DIVINE insight into spirituality and, in turn, try to incorporate that truth into their understanding of God. The result? Total confusion!
While those who received John's letter had been snookered into examining themselves and one another based upon observable adherance to specific commands, rituals, or protocols espoused by the spiritual elite, John gave them something totally different by which to judge. For he disregarded every proof of man and instead based everything upon the reality created by Jesus Christ. You see, he was so sure that what Christ had done inside them was so miraculous that he told them to let the declaration of that miracle (i.e. the gospel) be the only proof that their being in Him was real! His claim was that if it STUCK then they could know that it was true. I call it the Velcro-Effect. I could argue that adhesives are sticky and eventually rule out the possibility that Velcro had any holding power, but if I simply put one piece on the other then my doubts are nullified when they grab one another and remain together!
Do you want proof that you abide in Him? Forget trying to base your connection with God upon an examination of logic or upon external appearances or even upon your motives, for such a judgment will always fail. Let the evidence fall upon what HE has done. As Paul wrote:
that he is able to guard that which I have entrusted to HIM until that day...1 Timothy 1:12
The simple fact is that you are presented with thousands of reasons PER DAY why you should NOT be confident of being in Christ based upon your apparent lack of living up to standards and promises and covenants. Insanity has been defined (by some) as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. So why do we keep looking to that kind insanity in search of proof? God Himself is the only proof that will ever satisfy those who have been born of His Spirit ... for He is the fear destroyer!
"And that goes for your little dog, too!" :)
Until next time .....
the shovel (aka Jim)