Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Live in Love


“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” – John 15:9

Okay, you get one warning and here it is: put on your mushy-female-talk ear plugs, because here it comes!  I love my husband!  In the almost four years we’ve known each other we’ve had very few if any disagreements and never had harsh words towards each other.  I know how rare this is in a marriage, and I value that we have a relationship that is built on pleasing God and each other above self. 
We purposefully do things that are pleasing to the other.  Every morning Don will take a break from his devotional time, and come give me a good morning hug when I wake up.  Why? Because I love his good morning hugs!  And he always makes my coffee and has my cup sitting by the coffee pot.  When I plan the week’s dinners, I always ask him what he wants to eat.  I do that because I love cooking for him and seeing him happy with what I cooked.  At night I’ll wrap up in a blanket instead of turning down the air because I know he likes it cooler.  And these little things we do every day prove out the love that’s in our hearts.

You may say it sounds like endless sacrifice.  Well, it is – for both of us.  But we get to live in love every day.  We live knowing that there is one on this earth that values us more than they value themselves. 
In John 15, Jesus talks to us in the first seven verses about abiding in His love, and abiding in Him.  As you read it, you understand that with his many repetitions of the two phrases that Jesus is making a point: 

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. ABIDE IN ME, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it ABIDES IN THE VINE, neither can you, unless you ABIDE IN ME.  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who ABIDES IN ME, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not ABIDE IN ME, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you ABIDE IN ME, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” – John 15:1-7
Fellowship and friendship with Jesus means living in ways that seek to please Him above ourselves.  It is sometimes a sacrificial love.  He lives in us through the Holy Spirit from the time of our salvation.  He “abides” in us.  We become part of the vine that is Him at that time.  But we make a choice as to whether we are going to be a branch on the vine and bear fruit, or whether we are going to be of no value, wither away, and be cut off.

Does this mean that if you don’t live up to Jesus’ expectations you become lost again?  Is this fire that Jesus talks about hell?  Absolutely not!  When Jesus gives us live, it is ETERNAL life – not temporary (John 3:16).  If we could live according to Jesus’ expectations all the time, then there would be no need for a perfect Savior.  We are saved by grace and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8).  These verses mean that if we choose to live to please ourselves we cannot expect true fellowship and friendship with Him.  We’re not talking about salvation, but about fellowship.  You are still a branch, but not all branches on a vine bear fruit, and some bear thorns (Hebrews 6).  A good vinedresser will cut these off to give more energy and power from the vine to those that are fruitful.  And as the verse 7 says, there are benefits to that tight relationship to the vine in that what we desire, we can ask for and receive.
Being a dead branch on Christ is a lot like being in a dead marriage.  There’s a lack of communication, a loss of heart-felt love, and every day is just and endless saga of going through the motions.  But YOU get to choose whether you want that life of endless conflict and disappointment, or to live feeling loved.  If Jesus’ words abide in you – as a love letter is remembered by a wife – then you will live a life in love with the only one who can truly love YOU.  YOU can live feeling the love of Christ.      

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