27. Like Christ: Abiding In The Love Of God.
"Even as the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: abide in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fatherís commandments, and abide in His love."óJohn 15:9, 10.
Our blessed Lord not only said, "Abide in me," but also, "Abide in my love." Of the abiding in Him, the principal part is the entering into and dwelling and being rooted in that wonderful love with which He loves us and gives Himself to us. "Love seeketh not its own;" it always goes out of itself to live and be at one with the beloved; it ever opens itself and stretches its arms wide to receive and hold fast the object of its desire: Christís love longs to possess us. The abiding, in Christ is an intensely personal relationship, the losing ourselves in the fellowship of an Infinite Love, finding, our life in the experience of being loved by Him, being nowhere at home but in His love.
To reveal this life in His love to us in all its Divine beauty and blessedness, Jesus tells us that this love of His to us in which we are to abide is just the same as the Fathers love to Him in which He abides. Surely, if anything were needed to make the abiding in His love more wonderful and attractive, this ought to do so. "EVEN AS the Father loved me, so have I loved you: abide in my love." Our life may be Christ-like, unspeakably blessed in the consciousness of an In te Love embracing and delighting in us.
We know how this was the secret of Christís wonderful life, and His strength in prospect of death. At His baptism the voice was heard, the Divine message which the Spirit brought and unceasingly maintained in living power, "This is my BELOVED Son, in whom I am well pleased." More than once we read: "The Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35; 5:20). Christ speaks of it as His highest blessedness: "That the world may know that Thou hast loved them, even as Thou had loved me; Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world;" "That the love wherewith Thou lovedst me may be in them." Just as we day by day walk and live in the light of the sun shining around us, so Jesus just lived in the light of the glory of the Fatherís love shining on Him all the day. It was as THE BELOVED OF GOD that He was able to do Godís will, and finish His work. He dwelt in the love of the Father.
And just so we are THE BELOVED OF JESUS. EVEN AS the Father loved Him, He loves us. And what we need is just to take time, and, shutting our eyes to all around us, to worship and to wait until we see the Infinite Love of God in all its power and glory streaming forth upon us through the heart of Jesus, seeking to make itself known, and to get complete possession of us, offering itself to us as our home and resting-place. Oh, if the Christian would but take time to let the wondrous thought fill him, "I AM THE BELOVED OF THE LORD, Jesus loves me every moment, just as the Father loved Him," how the faith would grow, that one who is loved as Christ was, must walk as He walked!
But there is a second point in the comparison. Not only is the Love we are to abide in like that in which He abode, but the way to our abiding is the same as His. As Son, Christ was in the Fatherís love when He came into the world; but it was only through obedience He could secure its continued enjoyment, could abide in it. Nor was this an obedience that cost Him nothing; no, but it was in giving up His own will, and learning obedience by what He suffered, in becoming obedient unto the death, even the death of the cross, that He kept the Fatherís commandments and abode in His love. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life. This commandment have I received of my Father." "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him." And having thus given us Ms example, and proved how surely the path of obedience takes us up into the presence and love and glory of God, He invites us to follow Him. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, EVEN AS I kept my Fatherís commandments, and abide in His love."
Christ-like obedience is the way to a Christ-like enjoyment of Love Divine. How it secures our boldness of access into Godís presence! "Let us love in deed and in truth, hereby shall we assure our hearts before Him." "Beloved! if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God; and whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." How it gives us boldness before men, and lifts us above their approval or contempt, because we move at Godís bidding, and feel that we have but to obey orders! And what boldness too in the face of difficulty or danger we are doing Godís will, and dare leave to Him all responsibility as to failure or success. The heart filled with the thought of direct and entire obedience to God alone, rises above the world into the will of God, into the place where Godís love rests on him: like Christ, he has his abode in the love of God.
Let us seek to learn from Christ what it means to have this spirit of obedience ruling our life. It implies the spirit of dependence; the confession that we have neither the right nor the desire in anything to do our own will It involves teachableness of spirit. Conscious of the blinding influence of tradition, and prejudice, and habit, it takes its law not from men but from God Himself. Conscious of how little the most careful study of the Word can reveal Godís will in its spiritual power, it seeks to be led, and for this end to be entirely under the rule of the Holy Spirit. It knows that its views of truth and duty are very partial and deficient, and counts on being led by God Himself to deeper insight and higher attainment.
It has marked Godís word, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight," and understood that it is only when the commands do not come from conscience, or memory, or the book, but from the living voice of the Lord heard speaking through the Spirit, that the obedience will be possible and acceptable. It sees that it is only as a following out of the Fatherís personal directions, and as a service rendered to Himself, that obedience has its full value and brings its full blessing. Its great care is to live on the altar, given up to God; to keep eye and ear open to God for every indication of His blessed will. It is not content with doing right for its own sake: it brings everything in personal relation to God Himself, doing it as unto the Lord. It wants every hour and every step in life to be a fellowship with God. It longs in little things and daily life to be consciously obeying the Father, because this is the only way to be prepared for higher work. Its one desire is the glory of God in the triumph of His will: its one means for obtaining that desire, with all its heart and strength to be working out that will each moment of the day. And its one but sufficient reward is this, it knows that through the will of God lies the road, opened up by Christ Himself, deeper into the love of God: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."
Oh this blessed Christ-like obedience, leading to a Christ-like abiding in the Divine Love! To attain it we must just study Christ more. He emptied Himself, and humbled Himself, and became obedient. May He empty us and humble us too! He learned obedience in the school of God, and being made perfect, became the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him. We must yield ourselves to be taught obedience by Him! We just need to listen to what He has told us how He did nothing of Himself, but only what He saw and heard from the Father; how entire dependence and continual waiting on the Father was the root of implicit obedience, and this again the secret of ever-growing knowledge of the Fatherís deeper secrets. (John 5:19, 20. See Fifteenth Day.) Godís love and manís obedience there are as the lock and key fitting into each other. It is Godís grace that has fitted the key to the lock, it is man who uses the key to unlock the treasures of love.
In the light of Christís example and words, what new meaning comes to Godís words spoken to His people from of old! "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee, became thou hast obeyed my voice." "If ye will indeed obey my voice, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me." "The Lord shall greatly bless thee, if thou only carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments." Love and obedience indeed become the two great factors in the wonderful intercourse between God and man. The Love of God, giving Himself and all He has to man; the obedience of the believer in that Love, giving himself and all he has to God.
We have heard a good deal in these later years of full surrender and entire consecration, and thousands praise God for all the blessing He has given them through these words. Only let us beware that we be not led too much, in connection with them, to seek for a blessed experience to be enjoyed, or a state to be maintained, while the simple downright doing of Godís will to which they point is overlooked. Let us take hold and use this word which God loves to use: obedience. "To obey is better than sacrifice:" self-sacrifice is nothing without, is nothing but, obedience. It was the meek and lowly obedience of Christ, as of a servant and a son, that made His sacrifice such a sweet-smelling savour: it is humble, childlike obedience, first hearkening gently to the Fatherís voice, and then doing that which is right in His sight, that will bring us the witness that we please Him.
Dear reader! shall not this be our life? so simple, and sublime: obeying Jesus, and abiding in His Love.
O my God! what shall I say to the wonderful interchange between the life of heaven and the life of earth Thou hast set before me? Thy Son, our blessed Lord, has shown and proved to us how it is possible on this earth of ours, and how unspeakably blessed, for a man to live with the love of God always surrounding him, by just yielding himself to obey Thy voice and will. And because He is ours, our Head and our Life, we know that we can indeed in our measure live and walk as we see Him do; our souls every moment abiding and rejoicing in Thy Divine Love, because Thou acceptest our feeble keeping of Thy commandments for His sake. O my God, it is indeed too wonderful, that we are called to this Christ-like dwelling in love through the Christ-like obedience Thy Spirit works!
Blessed Jesus! how can I praise Thee for coming and bringing such a life on earth and making me a sharer in it. O my Lord I can only yield myself afresh to Thee to keep Thy commandments, as Thou didst keep the Fatherís. Lord! only impart to me the secret of Thine own blessed obedience; the open ear, the watchful eye, the meek and lowly heart; the childlike giving up of all as the beloved Son to the beloved Father. Saviour! fill my heart with Thy love; in the faith and experience of that love I will do it too. Yes, Lord, this only be my life: keeping Thy commandments, and abiding in Thy love. Amen.