Christianity is more than a philosophy—it is a life lived in relationship with Jesus.
What the world can never understand is that true Christianity is a daily walk with Jesus. The name, Emmanuel-God-with-Us is more than a name; it is a condition, a reality, a companionship of spirit and not one of mind or imagination. These meanings are all derived from the word “abide.” A Greek dictionary is helpful:
Abide: (NT:3306) me/nw meno (men’-o);
a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy). (Strong’s)
Far from an abstract set of life principles, true Christianity is a life to be lived with God Himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Abiding in Christ
“Abiding” is an action word, a powerful verb, something to be done intentionally and perpetually.
‘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.”
The grace of God makes this possible but the choice is ours. Jesus invites us in when He teaches us to pray, when He calls us to take up His yoke and learn of Him, when He enrolls our names into His family records, and when He calls us friends. He is the Lord of Hosts, high and lifted up on a throne of majesty with all of heaven focused on Him and yet He calls us friends. He is not content to be separated from us. The words of Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with thee…Thou art graven in my hand…” Yes, we are His servants, but we are also His friends, His confidants, His life companions.
The key to such intimacy with the Almighty is a simple one—obedience. In this simple but challenging life, obedience closes the distance between the human and the divine. It is the source of the deepest joy available to a human being—the joy of Christ.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you,
and that your joy may be full.”
Fullness of joy comes when our purpose is known and engaged. It has little to do with circumstances; this joy is sourced in eternal things. It is a joy that remains constant as life swirls around us. It is peace in and out of the storm.
A Circle of Friends
Obedience to the commands of Christ connects us to like-minded, like-hearted brothers and sisters. We are no longer alone in the world.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
This circle of obedient servants of Christ is a circle of deep friendships with dependable companions all headed in the same direction for the same reasons.
As Jesus spoke so tenderly to His men that night, He promoted them from the status of servants to that of friends. They would still be servants, but they would serve Him at the heart level and not from arm’s length. He had chosen them to be faithful and fruitful.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…”
This companionship is one of obedience born in love.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have 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. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.
Isaiah 41:9-10; 49:16 KJV
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Lord Jesus, it is so amazing that You have called me to serve You. It is more than amazing that You have called me to be Your friend. This is no meaningless designation; it is real. Just as friends do, You share Your heart with me, letting me feel what You feel, value what You value, and see things through Your eyes. Your voice speaks from Your Word; help me always to hear it. Even what my understanding falls short of Yours—as it must do!—help me continue to believe. I trust You, Lord Jesus, my very best friend. Amen.
Friendship with Jesus
Words: Joseph C. Ludgate; Music: Stephen C. Foster
1. A friend of Jesus! Oh, what bliss That one so weak as I
Should ever have a Friend like this To lead me to the sky!
Friendship with Jesus! Fellowship divine!
Oh, what blessed, sweet communion!
Jesus is a Friend of mine.
2. A Friend when other friendships cease, A Friend when others fail,
A Friend who gives me joy and peace, A Friend when foes assail!
3. A Friend when sickness lays me low, A Friend when death draws near,
A Friend as through the vale I go, A Friend to help and cheer!
4. A Friend when life’s short race is o’er A Friend when earth is past,
A Friend to meet on Heaven’s shore, A Friend when home at last!
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved