[I was studying the letter of First John last night and re-read this devotional that I wrote back in 2017. It really got my attention, so I am sharing it with you today.]
1 John 2:24-25
"Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life."
The kind of life to which God calls us, what scripture often calls "eternal life", emerges in its fullness when we abide in Christ. Jesus said in John 10.10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (in its fullness)." Jesus did not come to give us a portion of life; he came to give us fullness of life.
However, it is possible to be saved but not experience the fullness of the life that Christ brings. If we fail to know and obey the word of God, or if we grieve the Holy Spirit, or if we fail to love others as God commands, then fellowship with God is compromised and we do not experience fullness of life.
In this passage John gives us the key. It echoes what Jesus says in John 15. The key is to abide in Christ, and to let the word of Christ abide in you. The word "abide" means to connect deeply and stay connected. It is derived from the Greek word that means "to take up residence." We experience fullness of life when we take up full residence in Christ, and when we allow Jesus to take up full residence within us.
Having said this, I am concerned that we have allowed these powerful terms to become over-spiritualized. They have become words and phrases that are used in "church" but not in the everyday world of our life and work. This is part of a larger pattern and trend in contemporary Christianity. In far too many ways, we have allowed the focus of the Christian faith to be moved from the messy stuff of the real world to the sanitized arena of church and ritual.
We have moved the Christian faith out of the real world and into church buildings, which is far away from where Christianity should actually be lived, expressed, and experienced. There are several things we need to remember:
1) The church is a people, not a place. The church is not a building; it is the community of people who trust in Jesus and within whom he lives. We don't "go to church." We are the church!
"You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2.5)
2) We are the sanctuary. The Holy Spirit does not live and reside in the bricks and mortar of any church building, or in the worship center or auditorium. He indwells the followers of Jesus.
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." (Ephesians 2.19-22)
3) Worship is designed to happen everywhere, not only (not even primarily) once a week in a building. Worship is essentially a right response to God; and while we gather together regularly as believers to collectively worship the Lord through songs and sermons, that is not the only form or expression of worship. Every day should be an act of worship and response to God. This is what John means by "abiding." It is what the psalmist meant when he wrote, "I will bless the Lord at all times, and his praise shall continually be in my mouth."
4) Your daily work should be an act of worship. If you are abiding with Christ, and if his word abides in you, then the way you do your job should be directed by the principles of scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the purposes of God. You should respond to God daily as you go about about your work.
As agents and stewards of God’s creation, the Lord placed us in the world to work in it and on it, and it is our responsibility to offer the world back to God as an offering in praise—a world shaped by our gifts and transformed by our labor. Work is part of what it means to bear and reflect the very image of the Creator.
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (Colossians 3.23)
We can summarize this list by saying, as a follower of Jesus, your daily work and your life at home should be guided by the presence of the indwelling Christ in your life. This is what it means to abide in Christ.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15.4-5)