The Psalmist prophesied, “[The Lord] raised up for his people a horn [the Christ], the praise of… the people close to his heart” (Psalm 148:14, NIV84). I read this and my heart melts within me… “The people close to his heart.” I am close to the Lord’s heart! In Christ God draws close to me, to love me — even now in this moment. I belong to the Lord! So do you!
Remember Jesus said, “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love” (John 15;9, NIV84). Abide. Eleven times in his gospel John described our intimacy with Jesus as abiding. What does it mean to abide in Christ?
Abiding is Affectionate
Some Bible teachers want to reduce abiding to obeying the Lord’s commands. Certainly, Jesus teaches us in John 15 that obeying his words is part of abiding in him. But obedience is more the outcome of abiding than the essence of it. (This is especially true when “obedience” is narrowly defined in terms of loving actions, rather than as being a loving kind of person.) Abiding in Jesus is a way of relating and being with him, remaining in his love continually. Abiding is “intimate and organic” (John 15:5, MSG).
John wrote, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18, NASB). Then at the Last Supper he follows on the same idea and uses Jesus’ abiding in the Father as our example when he says, “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, NASB). Or in different wording, “The disciple Jesus loved reclined next to him… He leaned back on Jesus” (John 13:23, 25, NIV84).
These are the only two times John uses the Greek word for “bosom” or “chest.” John is showing us that as Jesus abided close to the Father’s heart so he abided close to Jesus’ heart. John is an example and inspiration for us.
Our Source of Identity
Our primary identity is not what we do — it’s our abiding in Jesus. This is a revolutionary statement with deep spiritual and psychological implications for our identity, well-being, and way of life.
With John we can say, “I am the disciple Jesus loves!” (John 13:23 and 26; 20:2; 21:7 and 20.) We can learn to live in greater intimacy with Jesus — at first, just for moments, but as we grow in God’s grace it becomes more our way of being so that as we do whatever we’re doing we’re abiding in Jesus and the Father, finding our support, significance, and strength as we lean on Jesus’ chest.
When we live in the reality of abiding in Jesus it changes everything! We will be free of many of the things that trouble people like depression, anxiety, and compulsive behavior. And we will have the divine capacity to bless those who curse us.
Come Close to Christ
I’d like to share a short prayer poem I wrote to help me abide in Christ. It’s inspired by Psalm 148:14 and the Apostle John’s experience and teaching on abiding in Jesus. I invite you to meditate quietly on the picture of John resting his head on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper as you pray these words from your heart:
Come close to Christ
Supper with the Savior
See his smile
Lean on the Lord
Hear his heartbeat
Delight to be his disciple
What is a situation of need or challenge in your life in which you need to “Come Close to Christ”? Identify that situation to the Lord and then, while imaging yourself in that place, return to using the meditation for quiet prayer. After a period of quiet reflection share your experience of Christ with others and pray for one another.