2386) Stay Connected (2 of 2)

     (…continued)  In John 15:13 Jesus said he would die for us, his friends.  What we need most in life is connections, relationships.  Jesus tells us here that the most important connection is already taken care of.  We are connected to God– if we will allow it.  Remain in me, Jesus pleads.  Don’t say no and don’t go away.

     Jesus gives us a wonderful promise and an important command.  Remain.  Stick around.  Keep in touch.  Do not betray, desert, abandon, forsake, or ignore the God who has given this relationship to you.  “Do not have any other gods before me,” says the first commandment; which is to say, “Do not make anything more important than me.”  Rather, “Remain in me.”

     How do we do that?  Well, in all the old usual ways, by prayer and worship.  The weekly Sunday morning gatherings for worship isn’t just something to do if there is nothing else going on.  All of our connections bring us blessings and demands, and sometimes we have to set priorities among competing demands on our time.  And there is something that sets this connection above and apart from all others.  It is by this connection that we have received life itself and the promise of eternal life.

     Weekly worship is the way people have been remaining in Jesus since the beginning.  Even Jesus, when he was here, went to worship, “as was his custom,” says Luke 4:16.  Until the time of perfect seeing comes, and we are with Jesus in person, this is how we keep alive the relationship that God gives us.  This is how we stay connected.  Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”

     Some people say: “I don’t care much for going to church and all that sort of thing, but I do believe in the man upstairs, and isn’t that what religion is all about?”  Well, that might be what their religion is all about, but such a mere casual acknowledgement of a vague someone or something upstairs is not by any means what the Christian religion is all about.

     Anybody that knows anything about Jesus knows that that God upstairs has come downstairs, down to this earth, to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ.  And Jesus is with us still, as he said to his disciples, “I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

     ‘The man upstairs’—more appropriately called the Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth– that God is not going to be overly impressed by someone simply doing him the favor of believing in him and leaving it at that.  This God expects and demands our attention.  “I am the Lord your God,” he said, “You shall have no other Gods before me.”  That is the very first commandment, and Jesus summed up all the commandments when he said– “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your mind, and all your soul.”  That sounds very different from a casual, “I don’t care for all that religion business, I just believe in the man upstairs.”  It is nice for such a person to agree to God’s existence.  But five minutes in the Bible would tell him that that is only a start.  “Abide with me,” said Jesus, “for apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) –not even take your next breath.

    There is a warning in these words of Jesus.  He speaks of those branches that do not remain in him being like branches that “wither and are thrown into the fire and burned.”  We hear those words and we might think of hell.  It doesn’t even have to mean only that, although it very well might mean that, too.   But it also means that only in Christ is there any hope of an ongoing enjoyment of our blessings.  Only in Christ do we have a hope of hanging on to anything after death.

     Jesus promises this connection that continues even beyond death.  To abide in him is to have an eternal abiding place.  Jesus came to show us the way to receive this eternal promise and head for that eternal home.

     Remain, abide, in Him.


“Abide With Me”

By Henry Lyte  (1793-1847)

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour:
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless:
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness:
Where is death’s sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.