Lately, I’ve been pouring over Jesus’ parting words to his disciples in the Book of John. Chapters 14-17 of that book highlight Jesus’ final teachings and instructions and I’m amazed by the personal nature of his comments. Jesus makes a point to refer to his followers as friends. He encourages them with talk of the Holy Spirit coming, and he also warns them of the costs of being a disciple.
What I’m most surprised by is the reference to us as friends. We so often look at Jesus as King, a leader, someone to be feared and respected. No doubt all of those things are true, but we have a King unlike any we could ever imagine. We have a King, a Lord who loves us so much that he desires a genuine, intimate relationship with each of us.
In John 15:4, Jesus requests that we maintain a continual connection with him. He says, “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.” Jesus is telling his disciples and us today, “I want to know you. The real you. Don’t just call me Lord but love me the way I love you.”
We cannot come in contact with Christ only once a week during worship and expect to really know him. We cannot only call on him during times of distress and expect him to be at our beckoned call. That’s taking advantage of his grace and friendship. Instead, we ought to look for ways to have daily, personal contact with Jesus, to abide in him in everything we do. And how do we do that? Here are some tips.
- PRAY DAILY- We have the great privilege to speak to God whenever we want through Jesus Christ. Take advantage of that privilege and speak to him about everything: your defeats, your successes, your gratitude, and your praise (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- READ THE BIBLE DAILY- We are so blessed to have the mind of God written down for us in the pages of the Bible. We never have to question who God is or what his character is like. We have been given, through his word, a look into his purpose and our role in it. And we have everything we need there to live a life if godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- REMAIN FAITHFUL TO HIS BRIDE, THE CHURCH- It has become fashionable in today’s world to alienate oneself from the church, or at least to bad-mouth the church and its function. The church is not a manmade institution but one created by Christ to strengthen his followers and bring the gospel to the world. While not perfect, the church is the bride of Christ and we are to remain faithful to her as we do to him (Revelation 2:10).
- EXAMINE YOURSELF- Although not a glorious task, the act of examination is vitally important if we are to abide in Christ. We must make every effort to put away the sin that divides our relationship with him and show loyalty through our actions by allowing Jesus to be our Lord instead of the world (2 Corinthians 13:5).
- SHARE YOUR FAITH- Mostly overlooked, this step can bring you closer to God in many ways. When we take a genuine interest in the salvation of others, we show God gratitude for the grace he has given us and obedience to the commission to teach the gospel (James 2:14-17).