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Abiding for Joy

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us - eternal life.” (1 John 2:24-25, ESV) One of my favorite comic strips growing up was Calvin and Hobbs. There was a game they would often play called “Calvinball.” The basic premise is they would start playing a game (any game), but as they continued, the players would change the rules constantly, usually without rhyme or reason. Whether it was how one could score points, or obstacles that had to be overcome in order to score points. It’s funny in a comic strip, and in theory it seems quite liberating. We can just make up the rules as we go?! But I think in real life “Calvinball” would be a nightmare as the rules would change so often that no one can keep up and eventually it would devolve into chaos. Unfortunately, there are many people, even practicing Christians, that think that abiding and following Christ is similar to a game of “Calvinball.” Do this, don’t do this. Sometimes they are told these things with no explanation and seemingly no point as to why. To punctuate this point - I was talking to someone in the queue at the grocery store the other day who told me they didn’t like church because of all the rules they have to follow. There are others I have talked to before that even think the rules we have to follow are killjoys, “Christians can’t have any fun.” I think they see Christianity as if it were a game of “Calvinball.” Except they don’t get to make any of the rules, they just have to follow them. However, I think a better example of abiding in Christ would be more like a game of football, basketball, or any other sport or game you may love. Those sports/games don’t have rules just for the sake of following rules, the rules are in place to help create parameters to reach a goal. You don’t swing bats to score a touchdown. You don’t use dice to get a straight in poker. Similarly, when we are told to abide in Christ it is to reach a goal as well - eternal life. King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes about all the things he did only to find it never satisfied, it never brought him true joy. The only thing that does is God. Once you discover that abiding in Christ actually brings you into closer communion with Christ, that is a game changer! You begin to realize that all those things we chase that are other than Christ is nothing more than fool’s gold. You begin to see that abiding in Christ doesn’t steal joy, but makes room for more joy than your heart can contain. In Christ, Gabe Bernal

For Reflection:
“He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from the beginning” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b, NIV)
  1. Why do you think we are sometimes convinced that abiding will steal our joy?

  2. Think of a few ways of how abiding in Christ has increased joy in your life.

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