There is this concept that sounds like it is straight out of the mouths of powerhouse Christians from the 1800’s: abide in Christ.
In fact, one of those dudes, Andrew Murray, wrote a book by the same name, and I happen to be reading it now. (You can, too, for free, here.)
Turns out Murray wasn’t the first person to use the word “abide” in relation to our interaction with Jesus. In the famous “I am the Vine, you are the branches” teaching, Jesus instructed the disciples to “abide in me” (at least in the KJV, John 15:4).
To be honest, the word “abide” is pretty ambiguous to me. As is the alternate word other translations use: “remain in me”.
How – I’ve often wondered – are we to “abide” or “remain” in Jesus? Practically speaking, what does that look like?
I’m not entirely sure. But Colossians 2:6-7 may give us a clue. It reads, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
There’s another ambiguous phrase: “continue to live your lives in him”. What does that mean?
When I think about what we can do to root and build up our lives in Jesus, I think about things like prayer and Bible reading. I think about cultivating a lifestyle of thanksgiving and praise. I think about making Him and His Word the basis for all our decisions.
When I think about what kind of things strengthen my faith, I think about all the same things. But I also think about swapping God-stories with others. When someone experiences the Lord’s faithfulness in a personal way and they tell me about it, my faith is strengthened. What’s more, if someone let’s me walk along side them during a crisis and we get to witness the Lord’s faithfulness together, that strengthens my faith even more.
These things will help us abide or remain in Christ. But we both know we can’t/don’t do these things constantly.
Yet the very definitions of the words imply we are to continuously remain/abide/live in Christ. How can we do that when we know we can’t do that?!
One thing about the Lord… He doesn’t ask us to do things we cannot do in Christ. (Note: He asks us to do A LOT of things we cannot do in our own strength.)
Murray suggests in his book that our job is to believe that Jesus will help us abide in Him, and the rest, basically, is up to Him. It’s true, we can’t abide in Christ for very long. But, just as He was able to rescue us from our sins, He is able to empower us to live continuously in Him. We were saved, Murray says, by faith. It should be no shocker, then, that we abide by faith as well.
If we truly believe that He is the vine (and meditate on the implications of such a claim [paragraph 6]), and if we truly believe that we are in Him (and meditate on the implications of such a position [paragraph 7]), we will be abiding.
To abide in Christ is to have faith that He is our everything at every moment and that we are forever being perfectly held and kept by Him.
Thanks be to Him that His grace makes these things so.
How much of that is being “in the Spirit”? Not necessarily abiding in but being in tune with The Holy Spirit. Is there a difference in any of that?
I’m thinking they are one and the same.
On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 12:31 PM, Calculating Grace wrote:
A year after becoming a Christian, a while back now, I was reading how the missionary to China, Hudson Taylor was getting frustrated that he was so short-tempered in his ministry. Then he read John 15:4, absorbed its meaning (as you have described beautifully above, Kelly) and he was changed overnight. No more doing things in his own strength; no more worrying about seeming setbacks and disasters or seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He just let it all go and accepted the flow from the Vine to the branches. After I read Hudson Taylor’s take, it changed my life too, more than any other Biblical principle. This year, I believe I have come to understand a simple extension of this principle and it is even more powerful. I said a heartfelt prayer that I would obey God no matter what. Straight away, God started leading me in various ways and it has just been incredible and will be even more incredible. I had to wait until I was 50 to dare to pray this prayer because I was worried about losing control and being asked to do impossible things, but when control goes to Christ we can’t be in better hands. And yes, my family are all being asked to do exactly the things I was worried about, but it is exciting for us and Christ is making the impossible possible. Heidi and Rolland Baker, who went to Mozambique with nothing and who slowly came to transform that nation, literally never say No to God, and further, they never accept a No from the devil when he attempts to inject it (coming against “incurable diseases” both in themselves and others, death threats, beatings, trumped up charges, etc in pure faith and reliance on Jesus). In the midst of a hugely busy schedule, Heidi insists on a min 6hrs each day to rest in the Vine and have her energy, love and joy restored… Then Pow, out she goes again, a paintbrush in Christ’s hand.
And definitely agree with you too, Elian. This is all about being in the Spirit, or as Heidi would say, inviting the Holy Spirit to rest on us and to be released into other people’s lives – Any video featuring Heidi is powerful, but here is one relevant to this, coming soon after she was healed herself from a serious illness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvt6ifvnSAs