“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9 (NKJV)
Why is this so difficult a task for so many of us? To abide in His love; to make our home there. Some days it feels as if the church has made a show of following Christ and the people with the most dramatic “come to Jesus” moments get center stage, but what is wrong with the simplicity of just abiding in love? I was listening to a song the other day called “Pieces” by Bethel Music and I was thinking about how I have believed my whole life that I need to do more and be more to be loved more by God. This might not have ever been explicitly said to me, but it has been the underlying tone of my walk with God. That some day, at a moment that is to be determined, once I have my act together, then I will understand God’s love for me fully. But this isn’t what I see in the words of Jesus above.
Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the short time before he is lead to the cross, giving them a farewell address and telling them what life will look like in the time that is coming for them quickly. In this section He tells His disciples that people will hate them, that they will be betrayed, and that they will have trouble. He also tells them that they will receive the Holy Spirit, a counselor that couldn’t come to them if He stayed with them. It is in the midst of all of this that He tells them that He loves them the same way that the Father loves Him and He instructs them to abide in His love.
I wonder when we made it more complicated than this. When did rules and regulations lead the church away from abiding? When did we stop trusting in the power of God’s love for us? When did we start thinking that the Father withheld the fullness of His love because we didn’t have our lives together? Isn’t it a little narcissistic to think that our sin and shame could short-change the LOVE OF GOD? That by some act of our own doing, we could undo His eternal, ever pursuing, never ending love… It’s ludicrous to believe that my actions could change this aspect of who He is.
So how do we stop this cycle, how do we get off this ride that leads to nowhere? For me, it has been a weird process of giving myself permission to stop striving, and to allow myself to rest and trust the love of the Father. I gave myself permission to trust that even when I make a mess of life, that God’s love is infinitely greater than the mess that I have made. To stop putting the focus of my life on how much I lack and start reorienting myself around how much He has. My Father who loves me is greater than I could ever truly understand. He is where I need to set my eyes. As the author of Hebrews says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”
If I am only looking inward, I will never see the Truth, because Truth isn’t just facts to recite, Truth is a person and His name is Jesus. For me to live in the fullness of who I am, I must take my eyes off myself, and allow myself to rest and abide in His love for me. It is in this abiding that revelation of Truth comes in its fullness. The work of redemption began with God and it most certainly ends with Him. He is the one who will change you and I making us new in a way that we never knew possible.
If this sounds too easy, know that it is and it isn’t at the same time. This is one of the many glorious paradoxes of faith that I gladly live in daily. The simplicity of the Gospel and the difficulty of fully releasing control. The trust in renewal from the Lord and the doubt that the mirror reveals to me daily. We are given the opportunities to trust that even something that suspends our belief is good and true. I hope that you can enjoy the mystery of God in your life today. That you find strength to press on in belief to rest in the LOVE of GOD today!