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186

LIV

SETTLING DOWN IN CHRIST

“Abide in Me.”—John xv. 4.

THE Lord Jesus Christ calls us to a settled life in His fellowship. But the difficulty is, our nature is so truant. The majority of us cannot settle down anywhere in anything. We are possessed of a spirit of restlessness, and we are the willing victims of constant change. We rush from one thing to another, and we do not tarry long enough at anything to make it disburse its treasure. It is a case of touch and go, not of quiet entry and deep possession. And so it is in our supreme relationship to Christ. We are vagrants, knocking occasionally at His door. We are rovers, paying Him infrequent visits. We do not settle down and abide in Him.

It is a very practical and familiar word which the Master uses. It is used many times in the New Testament in its ordinary everyday relationship; “Zaccheus, come 187down, for to-day I must abide at thy house!” Abide with us, for the day is far spent.” Our Lord invites us to live in Him, and to make Him our eternal home. Many of us go so far as to make Him our Church, where we occasionally worship Him. Or we make Him our hospital in those seasons when calamity is upon us, and our life is all in pieces. Or we regard Him as a kind of spiritual health-resort where we go now and again to take the medicinal waters. But we do not make Him our home. We visit Him, we do not live with Him. We look in, but we do not abide.

And this it is, this want of a settled life, which makes our influence so capricious and our service so broken and constant. Our religious life is a series of incalculable spasms. It is like the eruptions of an irregular geyser, and not the ceaseless flowings of a noble river. And yet it is the river which provides the Scriptural symbol of a deep and healthy life. “Then had thy peace been like a river,” abounding in great energy, splendid in its impressiveness, and wonderful in its continuity.

Perhaps it may be truly said, even of our 188Church life, that it is too often a series of distractions which tend to make us erratic in spirit; and we wander about from cistern to cistern, just sipping of what is supposed to be the water of life, but having no abiding communion with the Spring. We need to settle down to deep and ever-deepening fellowship with our Lord. We must make our home in Him. All our flirtations with other loves must cease if we would know the joy and peace and power of the Lord. In Christ is our salvation.

It was said by one of the friends of James Hinton that under the influence of the strong religious devotion which made it his habit for thirty years regularly to retire three times a day for prayer and communion with God, his character gradually mellowed and softened into a marvellous realisation of the Lord’s presence. It was a touching word of Hinton’s, “We are near home; may we be home-like!” So many of us, “in our religious life, have the conventional air of visitors, not the natural homelikeness of the children of the house. We don’t look as if we lived there. There is a certain awkwardness, an uneasy restraint, a suggestion that 189we do not know the ways and speech of the house. We have not ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God.’ We are not as the sheep which, under the perfect defence of the shepherd, go in and out and find pasture.” And yet this gracious intimacy, this ample freedom, are our abounding privilege in grace. We are not to remain on the frontiers of bondage—part friends and part bondslaves, half free and half bound, living in a sort of twilight of the kingdom. We are called right into the house of light, into the Lord’s immediate presence, to be guests, nay, members of the family, at His bountiful table, and to enjoy unfettered intercourse with our Head. We are invited to abide in Him.

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