Thoughts On Abiding: What Does "Abiding" Mean? (Part 1)
Matt Massey |
February 6, 2024
What does “abiding” mean?
"Abiding in Christ" has become a popular Christian phrase but what does it mean? As a pastor, I think we must understand what God intends when He calls us to "abide" or "remain connected" to Him.
Our church is about three things: being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and doing what he did. This article will look at how to be with Jesus—or abiding with him.
In John chapter 15, Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches to describe our relationship with Him. He declares "I am the vine, you are the branches." Just as branches must remain connected to the vine to thrive and bear fruit, we must remain closely connected to Christ.
But what keeps us connected to Jesus? He gives us the key a few verses later: "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love..." So abiding is about ongoing obedience. As we submit to Christ's lordship in each area of our lives, we stay tapped into His life and power. Like a branch plugged into an electrical outlet, His life and strength flow through us.
And this abiding connection leads to incredible fruit in our lives. Jesus said, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." As we yield more fully to the Spirit's work in us, He produces His likeness in us—"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
I find that most Christians I know (including myself) fail to truly abide in the strength and depth that Jesus intends. Rather than a wholehearted connection, we settle for a superficial association. Jesus warns against this saying, "If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers." Without the flow of His divine life, we become spiritually lifeless.
So why do we fail to abide? I see 4 key reasons:
1. Busyness - Our frantic pace distracts us from the presence of Christ. Rather than listening to His voice, our days are dominated by screens, tasks, and noise. Silencing the madness is critical to abide.
2. Self-sufficiency - Our culture idolizes independence and self-reliance. If we’re not careful, that attitude creeps into our faith as we try to live the Christian life in our strength. Only through humble dependence can we access His life.
3. Willful disobedience - At times, there are clear sins or violations of conscience we avoid dealing with. As long as we cling to these, we cannot deeply connect with Christ. Ongoing submission is required to abide.
4. Lack of discipline - Abiding doesn't just happen automatically. It requires intentionally cultivating spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, silence, and meditation through which we meet with Jesus. Discipline fuels connection.
So what can we do to abide more fully? Here are a few key pathways to a deeper connection with Jesus:
1. Slow down - Build regular spaces of silence and solitude into your life to stop striving and be still before God. Silence calms the madness.
2. Confess and obey - As God brings areas of willful disobedience to mind, confess them quickly and return to following Him wholeheartedly. Sin severs the connection.
3. Pray-dependent prayers - Cry out to God from your heart in humble, dependent prayer. Ask God to produce His fruit in and through you. We can do nothing apart from Him.
4. Study and memorize scripture on abiding - Scripture immersion fuels connection with Jesus. As verses on abiding soak deep into our souls, we’re transformed. Some great ones to start with are John 15:1-8, John 15:9-17, and Colossians 2:6-7.
5. Practice His presence - Throughout your day, seek to live aware of Jesus’s presence with you by your side. Talk with Him. Meditate on truth. Consciously walk before an audience of One. Practicing His presence fuels continual communion.
I encourage you - do not settle for a superficial faith. Our world desperately needs to see the vibrant, Kingdom life that flows from true abiding.
May we embrace Kingdom priorities and increasingly yield ourselves to the call to costly discipleship. As we make remaining in Christ our highest goal, by His grace, “rivers of living water” will flow from our lives to those who are spiritually thirsty all around us.
Let’s pursue radical obedience and childlike dependency. Let's throw off every entanglement and hold wholeheartedly to the vine—Jesus. Fruitful life awaits!