When I was twelve I had an obsession with riding my bike. During the summer my friends and I would be out and about for hours on end just riding around the neighborhood. The only problem was that my bike was lame. It was old – beat up – and didn’t run that well. After one particularly memorable mocking from my friends I decided that action needed to be taken. I needed a new bike. But of course as a twelve year old my funds were somewhat limited and for some reason I could not convince my parents that dropping a couple Benjamin’s on a new ride was worth it. So I took my limited options and combined them with my incredible twelve-year-old imagination and decided to build my own bike.
Over the next 2 months I spent countless hours stripping down my old bike – scouring the neighborhood for new bike parts – calling in favors from my rich friends – and pleading with my dad to let me use his power tools. The result of my hard work was a sweet new bike with cool features like pegs and handle bar breaks. (Even better my friends stopped mocking me.) I’ll be honest with you – it was a ton of work. I poured every minute of my summer into working on that bike but ironically it never felt like work. Why? Quite simply, the excitement of the end goal made the “work” part pure joy for me.
It makes me wonder, though, does our walk with Christ look and feel the same way? I suspect that often times the work of the Christian life can seem daunting, tiresome, and sometimes downright un-enjoyable. More often than not we resort to the fact that this is the “cost” of following Jesus. We assume joy is an elusive byproduct of faith and we forget that Bile assumes a life marked by the gospel would be a life filled with joy (Prov.10:28; Phil. 4:4). So how then can we find joy in the “work” of the Christian life like a twelve year old building a bike? How do we keep from burning out on giving, church, Bible reading, prayer, and evangelism?
In his final discourse to his disciples Jesus says these powerful words, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (Jn. 15:9). Abide. That’s one of those Christianese words that sounds cool in Christian circles but get’s you weird looks at the grocery store. According to Jesus in John 15 – abiding in Him is the key to unlocking the joy found in the Christian life. J.D. Greear says it this way, “Abiding in Jesus will produce all of the fruits of the Spirit in you.”
He goes on to say that when you abide in Christ, “You concentrate on Jesus. You rest in His acceptance, given to you not because of what you have earned, but because of what He has earned for you” Unlocking this deep and yet simple biblical truth could be the greatest discovery you make in your Christian life. On our fall retreat – October 4-6 – we will study in detail what a life of abiding looks like. Our hope is that you would leave that weekend with a transformed understanding of what it means to follow Jesus and a renewed joy in “work” (things like prayer, Bible study, and evangelism) of the Christian life.
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 Gospel by J.D. Greear, 14.