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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Abiding and Obeying: Two Reasons for the Kingdom/Church.

"John 15:7-10: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments. and abide in his love."

Jesus abides in the Father's love.

We are summoned to abide in Jesus.

We are summoned to abide in his love.

We are summoned to let his words abide in us.

We are summoned to keep his commandments.

Jesus kept his Father's commandments.

The Church/Kingdom operates on our side of the veil from abiding in God's love, letting his words linger and root in us, and obeying the Father's commandments as a response. Sure, grace makes it all possible, but the summons to the Church - you and me, his ragamuffin disciples - remains to abide and obey.

In all this abiding: Jesus in the Father's love and we in his love and the commandments we keep because his words abide in us, Jesus says we are free to ask anything and it will be granted to us. The kinds of requests we ask will flow from staying in his love and doing what he commands. The end result is the Father is glorified in the equation because in our asking and abiding we bear abundant Kingdom fruit, and the Father is revealed in all his magnificent majesty, power, wisdom, beauty, holiness, greatness and perfection.

Therefore, the deepest meaning of abiding in the love and will of God is to show forth his nature in the Kingdom he is establishing on earth which eventually heals the cosmos.

The Church exists to manifest the love and will of God in a way the world can see. If we abide and obey, the Kingdom becomes an oasis of life in a wasteland of death. Abiding in God's love frees, heals and focuses Jesus-followers to follow what he commands and thus participate in revealing the Kingdom and heart of God to all. Abiding teaches us enter into the human condition with its horrors, cynicism and despair because we are convinced we are loved and allow the love of God to move us into the ugly mess of life where people are trapped and suffocated.

Doing what he commands is the means by which the Kingdom/Church embodies the will of God in real time, thus incarnating what he says is authentic and truly enlivening. God's will establishes freedom, order, creative ennobling, gradually manifesting cultures full of industry, justice and peace. Culture becomes an expression of God's bright values and people become more human reflecting the goodness of the God who made them even if they are unawares.

Sadly, I realize we don't see much of this abiding, obeying Kingdom/Church life because much of the time we don't abide and obey: we visit and do what is right in our own eyes. We are content to skim the surface even when we think we are going deep. We like the spiritual benefits of abiding and obeying, but not so much the cost - surrendering our cherished self-determination i.e., giving up the right to our lives.

Understand that as the people of God seek and learn to abide and obey, the Church whispers the Kingdom's on the way. God's will is made plainer. The Church moves closer toward fulfilling its reason for being and the Kingdom is hastened.

What can you do to abide longer and more closely today?

What can you do to obey God more freely today?
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