What exactly does it mean to abide in Christ? Is it to do what He says, to continue to believe in Him, to tolerate Him, or is it to remember Him? If we look at the New International Version of the Bible, we are told to “continue in him”. The Orthodox Jewish Bible says that we should “remain in Him”. So we have three translations using three different words that can affect our perception of what 1 John 2:28 says to us. Hence, as we look at scripture, each of us with our own translation preference, we can perhaps come out of this passage with a similar, yet a little different understanding of the message that the Apostle John was trying to share with us.
If we went around asking people what it means to abide in Christ, chances are that we would get similar answers to the question. However none of the answers would be exactly the same. I guess our answers would be similar to the answer we would give Jesus if He came before us today and asked, “‘but who do you say that I am?’”(Luke 9:20) Our answers, although similar, would differ based on our own understanding of Jesus. Our answer would be personal.
Such is the way in which God reveals Himself to His people; in a common unifying and undeniable way, but at the same time in a personal manner. One revelation serves as a template or framework from which each person can start or work off from, while the other revelation comes only after each person seeks guidance from Christ intimately. The broader communal understanding that is revealed to the Church serves as a guardrail that keeps us from perhaps justifying ourselves when confronted by the deeper revelation that we experience as we relate to Christ Jesus.
So while we should place great importance in our personal relationship with Jesus, we have to make sure that our personal relationship with Christ is tempered with sound Church teaching. We have to make sure that our personal relationship with Christ does not become our own individual, self directed relationship with Christ. Otherwise we run the risk of self justification. Self justification, of course, is perhaps the worst enemy that we can encounter as we journey on to Heaven. Telling ourselves that what we are doing against God isn’t so bad or that it is somehow mitigated is the biggest obstacle that we face when it comes to letting Christ transform our life into His image. Unless we let Christ transform us I dare say that we are not abiding in Him.
I guess we can say then, that abiding in Christ requires us to have an honest and constant personal relationship with Him; and that to keep our relationship honest and constant we have to look to the Church in order to help us understand what the Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals to us. We can seek the guidance of the Church by attending services at a local church or parish. We can read books from different Church leaders. We can listen to sermons on the radio and online. The opportunities to connect with the Mystical Body of Christ are essentially endless. Nevertheless, whatever you learn from your pastor and other church teachers or fellow Christians needs to be brought with you whenever you come before Christ. In that way, you can honestly examine your conscience in order to determine if you are following the Lord Jesus. If you are not, then with the guidance of the Holy Spirit you can take the proper action to correct your erring ways. In that way you can “abide in him, so that when he is revealed [you] may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.”(1 John 2:28)
According to the constitution of Iran its citizens are given freedom for religious practice. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani attempted to exercise his freedom of religion when school officials tried to enforced a government policy that required that all children study the Quran in school. As a result of his protest, the secret police demanded that pastor Youcef Nadarkhani appear before a political tribunal. He was arrested and was later charged with apostasy and evangelism of Muslims.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was tried on September 21, 2010 and was condemned to dead on November 13 for apostasy. Currently our brother in Christ is in jail were the authorities have tried every trick in the book, to include torture, medication, etc, in order to convert him back to Islam.
Since they were not able to convert him back to Islam, the authorities retaliated by arresting brother Youcef Nadarkhani’s wife, by putting her on trial without an attorney present, and sentenced our sister in Christ to life in prison. By the mercy of God, she was later released from prison after winning an appeal.
The authorities have not executed our brother Youcef Nadarkhani yet. While we are thankful that he is still alive, we know that he is still suffering tremendously at the hands of those who have unjustly put him in prison.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit of God will descend upon our brother pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and that his heart will be filled with an immeasurable courage and strength. That as he endures this unjust punishment from his torturers, his unwavering love for Christ will serve as a powerful evangelism tool like no other. Let us also pray for his family and for their safety. Finally Lord, we pray for the release of our brother. That as we join together in prayer, the shackles that blind those who have unjustly persecuted him will be removed from their hearts, and that compassion may move them to release our brother so he can be reunited with his family. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on our brother and on his family. In Christ we pray. Amen.
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Sacred Heart of Jesus, look kindly upon your people here on earth. Were there is hunger, move the heart of those who have food so that they may share it. For those who are homeless Sacred Heart, move compassionate hearts to provide shelter.
Have mercy on little children Sacred Heart, that the leaders of this country will think of them as they rule our country. That the interest of the powerful will not overtake the interest of those who suffer and have great need.
Sacred Heart have mercy on us and hear our prayers. Amen.