Abiding In Christ
“And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He is manifested, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28). John’s love and concern for those he wrote to is apparent in two ways. First, John addressed his audience as “little children.” This term was used as a loving address, and teachers would often employ it to refer to their spiritual children. Second, John’s love and concern for his spiritual children is apparent by observing what he instructed them to do. He instructed his little children to abide in Jesus.
What does it mean to abide in Jesus? John wrote this letter to Christians who were facing a series of threats to their faith. Worldly lusts threatened their fellowship with God (1 John 2:15-17). Antichrists—individuals who denied that Jesus is the Christ—were a continual source of trouble. In fact, their presence is one of the reasons why John wrote this letter. He said, “These things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you” (1 John 2:26). There were also internal issues that threatened their status as children of God. John devoted a significant portion of his letter to the topic of love. He equated a failure to love others with not knowing God. John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Worldly lusts, antichrists, and internal issues threatened their fellowship with God. Abiding in Jesus means that these threats must be neutralized. It means that we must maintain our fellowship with Him.
How can Christians neutralize threats to their fellowship with God and Christ? John wrote, “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6). We abide in Jesus as we walk as He walked. Threats and temptations to our fellowship remain, but the one who walks as He walked is not easily moved off course. They remain in the realm of fellowship with God and Christ.
John loved those he wrote to, and he wanted them to know that there are two options when Jesus returns. We can be confident, or we can shrink away from Him in shame (1 John 2:28). The only way we can be confident is if we abide in Jesus. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of John’s instructions is helpful. He writes, “And now, children, stay with Christ...then we’ll be ready for him when he appears.” Threats and temptations to move away from Christ surround us. We, however, can abide in Him.