Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Fruit of Obedience

By Belinda

Lord grant me the courage of David to resist the temptation to live a life that is not the one you have given to me..Help me listen and obey your voice today. In Jesus' name, amen. 
Peter Scazzero, The Daily Office

I know the importance of the "abiding,"written about in John chapter 15, and upon which a life in Christ depends completely, even if I haven't been very good at doing it faithfully. But I only thought of it as spending time in God's presence; listening for his voice; reflecting; reading; being positioned before him in a way that his life could flow through mine. And I do think that all of that is true, but today God showed me something more, another key that was missing in my understanding of this passage until now.

I realized today that "abiding" means a moment by moment faithfulness to something God reveals to me as a step of obedience. It might be something that is not at all important in anyone else's eyes, but it will be something that God puts his finger on in my life as incongruous with his life in me. He won't do it in judgement. It  will seem as though two paths lie before me and I have the free will to choose either on a certain thing. If I choose my own will, I will go on as before and in his mercy he will love me no less. But if I surrender in that small thing; if I lay it on the altar as a small sacrifice to him--out of love for him, the prize will be a deeper identification with Christ in me, a greater intimacy. The "abiding" comes in because there will be the temptation to take back that sacrifice. Abiding means not to give that ground away, once taken in my life for Christ. I can think of times in the past when I failed to faithfully sacrifice what I knew God had asked of me and he has patiently waited for me to recognize the tinsel I grasped at when I could have had his precious gold.

Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
The voice of the Spirit is as gentle as a zephyr, so gentle that unless you are living in perfect communion with God, you can never hear it. The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice you will quench it, and your personal spiritual life will be impaired. His checks always come as a still small voice, so small that no one but the saint notices them....Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments of the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness.

Read the passage in John 15 with this perspective and suddenly the references to obedience spring out. But a caution...we cannot do it ourselves even then. "Abiding in the vine" means to draw our life from him; even our will to do his will comes from him, and only the Christ life flowing from the Vine can produce the life of obedience. All is to his glory! Our only part is the act of the will required to say, "Yes; I hear; I will." 

John 15:1-17 (New International Version, ©2010)

The Vine and the Branches

 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.


Janet Sketchley said...

"Abiding means not to give that ground away, once taken in my life for Christ."

Sometimes that still, small voice of the Spirit speaks through fellow Christians. Thanks for this, Belinda!

Belinda said...

Dear Janet, I am thanking God with you for that.