And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. – 1 John 2:27 ESV
According to John, there appear to be two significant things that contribute to a believer’s inability to live as Jesus lived and walk as He walked. The first is that we do not abide in Him. The word for abide is menō and it means “to remain, tarry, not to depart, to be held, kept, continually.” It is the same word Jesus used when He said, “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” (John 15:4 ESV). Jesus gave us an image of connectedness and oneness. He was illustrating a unity and spirit of dependency that is essential to our fruitfulness as believers. You have to remember that the context in which John writes involves a group of individuals who had left the local fellowship. They had failed to remain. Not only had they departed from fellowship with the people who made up the church there in Ephesus, they had walked away from the Christ that the apostles had preached. Either they had never believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Savior of the world, or they had changed their opinions about Him somewhere along the way. So John was reminding those who were left behind to “remain.” He wanted them to stay connected to Christ, but not a Christ of their own choosing. They must continue believing in the Christ Jesus claimed to be, the apostles taught Him to be, and the Spirit confirmed Him to be. “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ” (1 John 2:27 NLT).
There is a time when Jesus will return. And while we don’t know when it will happen, we are to live with that moment in mind. His eventual coming is to have an impact on our conduct. And our conduct is directly linked to our willingness to abide in Him. Jesus said, “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 15:5 ESV). Our fruitfulness is directly linked to our abiding. And our fruitfulness glorifies God because it gives evidence to His power operating in us and through us. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8 ESV).
There is a second thing that makes it extremely difficult for us to live abundant, powerful and fruitful lives while we wait for the Lord’s return. We refuse to accept or acknowledge who we really are. John reminds us that we are children of God. This incredible reality seems to never really sink in with most believers. And John would have us know that our new designation as God’s children is the direct result of His incredible, marvelous, undeserved love for us. He has made us His children. Not because we deserved it, but because He chose to extend His love to us through the death of His Son on our behalf. We are His children and yet, most of us fail to ever recognize the immense significance of that reality. We tend to live as paupers rather than princes. We have been adopted by the God of the universe, but live as though we are orphans left to defend for and care for ourselves. The apostle Paul reminds us, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT). And one of the most significant things about our adoption is that it comes with rights. Paul tells us that the full impact of our adoptions as sons is “that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:5 NIV). We’re not third-class citizens, but fully legal children of God with all the rights and privileges that come with being His sons and daughters. God is our Father and we can come to Him at any time. We can make requests of Him. We can cry out to Him. But many of us fail to accept our new status as God’s children. We live as if we belong to this world. We tend to seek for satisfaction and comfort from this place rather than turning to our heavenly Father. C. S. Lewis put it well when he said, “It would see that our Lord fins our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
If we want to be fruitful, faithful and experience the full life Jesus offered, we must remain in Him. We must not depart from Him, but remain attached to Him – at all times and at all costs. We can do nothing without Him. And we must constantly remind ourselves that we are children of God, with all the rights and privileges that come with that designation. We are no longer citizens of this world. Which is why John said, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1 ESV). And why Jesus prayed on our behalf, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15 ESV). Abide in Him. Accept who you are. And you will see God work in ways that transform you and glorify Him.