Monday, March 17, 2014


Ever had a theme follow you and show up every time you turn around?  My wife is experiencing that with the concept in Abiding in Christ.  It came up this morning, it was there for her last week, in studies and devotions, sermons and Bible studies.  John chapter 15 shows up for her over and over, and as a result, it show up for me.  She shares with me what God is telling and sharing with her, and as a result I am hearing God talk to me about abiding.

She and I had a great conversation yesterday.  She and I have both walked though the valley these last few years, really struggling with where God is taking us, and being impacted by people causing us pain.  We have been wounded and as a result, we have pushed back against the Christian cliches that are so often said.  "Just give it to God" or "Run to God" or "God won't give you more than you can handle" (this one makes me irritated).  No one really knows what that means (ok, maybe a few have an idea) but most of the time we say those things because we don't know what else to say.  Often we throw in the "I'll pray for you" comment, and sometimes we pray and sometimes we forget.  Elaine and I have both cried out that we need something a little more tangible and a little less cliche.  She spoke with a friend who gave her some practical advice, to be honest at God, to cry to the heavens, tell Him what is wrong and tell Him what you think you need. I found this to be great advice and very applicable for me.  I have such a tendency to try to fix every issue on my own, in my own power.  It seldom works.

Sometimes we can see this abide principle the same way.  It can be a little bit of a nebulous idea, something that we know we should do, but don't really know what it means.  What does it mean to abide?  We know that much of this message is a metaphor, after all we are not branches.  We don't have grapes hanging off us.  Jesus is not an actual vine, so what does it mean?  We are not physically attached to Christ to get our nutrients, and those who are not in Christ are not shriveling up, drying out and getting thrown into a fire.

As I have thought about it and considered it and pondered what Jesus meant, I am glad he offered some clarification.  Jesus said we need to keep His commandments, which are to love one another, love people, care for widows and orphans.  We are to tell others about His love and be His hands and feet.  So we abide by doing the things He told us to do.  He goes on to say in John 15 that His commandment is to love one another.  We abide in Christ by having love for people.

So we abide by loving each other, and we are to bear fruit so the Father is glorified.  What does it mean to bear fruit?  After all, I don't have grapes hanging from my fingers and ears.  Bearing fruit, being fruitful, in Genesis, this was used in the phrase "be fruitful and multiply".  I am not sure this is what Jesus had in mind, but in the same way, the idea of bearing fruit does give images of producing, growing, adding.  If we need to bear fruit and we need to love one another, it seems that we need to invest in one another. 

I think this has several aspects.  The first is the obvious of sharing Christ with others, but I don't think ends there.  We need to disciple people, serve people, invest in people, love people and thereby add to the kingdom.  God is glorified when we partner with Him in the growth of the kingdom.  In my life, I share with those around me, I talk about the things I have learned, I love for those I work with and spend time around.  I try to have a positive impact in the world, which isn't always easy.  The only was I can do it is to abide in Christ, prayer, study and of course to obey His commandments.  When I obey, I am empowered to love and when I love I love more.

I am working every day to abide more in Christ.  It's not always easy, I don't find it natural to love some people.  It takes prayer and being around other believers who love me.  I don't feel like I understand everything about abiding, and my wife is constantly teaching me new things about abiding and love.  I hope that as I spend time understanding and learning about that last night that Jesus spent with His disciples.  I will strive to enter that rest by abiding.

No comments:

Post a Comment