Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tenacious Dependence

On Thursdays I have been sharing a little bit about what I have been learning as I read through 1 John.

I have been sharing about a paragraph at a time.  Now I am nearing the end of a section where John talks about the unity of the body and the unity of the believer with the Father and the Son.  A word that keeps coming up again and again as I read and share is “remain.”  These ideas are contrasted with the adversaries of Christ who do not “remain” and are neither unified with the body of believers or the Father and Son.  The section continues:

“I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”  1 John 2:26-27 TNIV
A few words about “those who are trying to lead [the believers] astray.”  These are the ones John has identified as antichrist.  They are adversaries.  They are opposed to that which they "have heard from the beginning" (v.24).  He counters this warning with truth. He reminds them that the adversaries don’t have what the believers do—the Spirit that remains in them and the truth the Spirit confirms.

Once again, the word remain is key to what John is trying to convey to the believers.  Often, this word is translated abide.  However, in Greek, the word menō means “to take up residence” (Present Perfect, 34).  This is why at times we see it translated “live.”

What might it be like to read the beginning of the passage this way?  “As for you, the anointing you received from him has taken up residence in you.”

The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in the believer.    

Rather than revisit the words of John about the Spirit, as we did a few weeks ago, I’d like to explore what it might look like to live aware of the Spirit that resides in the believer.

The Voice translation reads:  “You have an anointing.  You received it from [Jesus], and His anointing remains on you.  You do not need any other teacher.  But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this:  Remain connected to Him” (v.27).

The Spirit leads us in alignment with God’s Word, the Bible, and it leads us to maintain our connection with Christ.  This life in the Spirit is what characterizes the life of a Christ follower—attention and submission to the Holy Spirit.

This past winter, I read Present Perfect by Gregory A. Boyd.  In it he discusses different ways to focus on being attuned to the Spirit in every day moments.  He begins by sharing his conviction 

“I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus.  I’m convinced this challenge is implied in our commitment to surrender our life to Christ, for the only real life we have to surrender to him is the one we live each moment” (15-16).
Remaining connected happens moment by moment.  Just as we either love the world or love God in a moment, we also remain connected or live outside the flow of the Spirit one moment at a time.  These things do not co-exist. 

When I realize that “every moment is a chance to live in the flow of the Spirit” I can be intentional about the way I live (The Me I Want To Be, 53).  Rather than going through the motions I am able to be open to the day before me with purpose. 

This moment, right now, is filled with opportunity to bring glory to God—whether it is sitting with a class of wide-eyed youngsters eager to learn, serving a table of frazzled men and women in suits over lunch, or changing a diaper.  Each conversation, is a moment filled with opportunity to listen to the person I am sitting with and be listening for the voice of the Spirit to respond.  Each moment is an opportunity to worship.

Mark Buchanan writes that “life in the Spirit involves [an] alignment of my thoughts, my words, my deeds with the heart of Jesus.  It’s that alignment, the in-ness, that produces fruit that will last” (Spiritual Rhythm, 210).

This is what happens when we are yielded to the Spirit.  We are transformed—moment by moment.  Our thoughts.  Our words.  Our actions.  When we are surrendered to the Spirit, we become more like Christ.  This is what abiding looks like.  Moment by moment.  Day by day. 

We live full of life—a breath of fresh air to a world that desperately needs it.

Hear these words of Mark Buchanan from Spiritual Rhythm:

“The only fruit that glorifies God stems from abiding in Christ, and he in us.  It’s a life of faith and faithfulness.  It’s a life of utter dependency and yet, strangely, daring initiative.  Put another way, much and yet nothing depends on me.  What depends on me is my tenacious dependence on Christ.  I must do that thing which exposes my utmost bankruptcy of all my doings.  Apart from me, he clearly said, “I can do nothing.”  I depend on him for exactly everything.  If I fail in this one thing, this tenacious dependency, I fail entirely.  And yet the other side of this is what Paul proclaims in Philippians, the secret, he says, of being content in any and every situation: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  I can do everything, or nothing, all hinging on one thing: being in Christ or not” (209-210).

Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we abide, as we surrender to the Holy Spirit that resides in us.  May we find in tenacious dependence on Christ a life of fruitfulness that begins in our lives and radiates outward.  May we praise God for his goodness to us in all of it.

Jessica :)

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