Abiding in Christ
As a child, some of my best memories were spending time at Sliding Rock. My friends and I would pack into a car and set off for a day filled with excitement, it was the perfect place to spend our time on a hot summer day splashing and sliding into the pool below. The water there is a fridged 50-60 degrees on the hottest of days so as you can imagine it wasn’t for everyone. We would stand on the banks of the stream and watch others as they slid into the chilly waters below so we could see their faces as they surfaced, for some it was exhilarating, and for others not so much.
This reflects how many of us approach our Christian lives. Some Christians plunge into these spiritual waters with enthusiasm and zeal. They are pursuing Christ with all their heart, mind, body, and soul. You can see the excitement in their eyes, on their faces, and the way they live their lives. But for others, they aren’t getting much from their walk with the lord. They’re sort of drudging their way through the Christian life. The problem is spiritual of course because there is nothing wrong with the plans our Lord has for us, and the love and joy He offers.
Jesus says “I am the True Vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it bears more fruit. Already you are clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:1-11)ESV.
Jesus uses the word abide ten times in eleven verses. So what does it mean to abide and how do we do it? The word abide in Greek means to remain or stay. Jesus goes on to say that He is the true vine and his Father is the vinedresser. The Father cuts back the unfruitful branches and prunes those that are fruitful so they bear more fruit. The unfruitful branches wither without the life-giving power of the vine and are thrown into the fire.
John 15:5 is one of the heavy-hitting statements in the Bible. In the same sentence Jesus makes it known we can do nothing on our own and offered us complete provisions to do anything through him.
Philippians 4:13: says ” I can do all things through him who strengthens me” It’s one thing to read those words and another altogether to believe and apply them to our lives. Many Christians today believe they can do all things with or without Christ. They may agree when the verse is read from the pulpit, but once out the door, they begin to make their own choices, to do things their way. Our churches are filled with people who claim to have a personal relationship with Christ. They think that attending church on Sundays and doing good deeds is all that is needed for a righteous life in Christ, so who are those fruitful branches. Jesus tells us that if we abide in him and he abides in us we will bear much fruit, he says the Father will then prune the fruitful branches so that it bears more fruit, this act of pruning consists of what James refers to as trials or testing of your faith (James 1:2), many Christians when faced with trials or testing wither from the vine and turn to alcohol, drugs, or material goods. Jesus wants us to trust in him for all our needs. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matt 6:25) We must cling to the vine that is Christ, and truly believe what he says.
We will get nowhere in our Christian lives without the life-giving power of the vine, we must remain grounded in his love, steadfast to his words. The Christian life isn’t about what we see or hear but trust and faith in Christ. For we live by faith and not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2Cor 5:7-8). You see our greatest need in life is our attachment to Jesus, unless we abide in him unless our relationship with him is as solid as growing branches on the vine, our spiritual life will be worthless.
Most people would rather not hear about their inability to do things. They surround themselves with self-help tv shows and motivational speakers, that’s why those types of shows are so popular. They define themselves by power, success, and wealth. But for true Christians life isn’t about any of those things, it is about abiding, our success comes from what the Bible describes as fruitfulness, it is not about power but abiding in Jesus.
Jesus wants us all to remain steadfast, and have an intimate relationship with him that cannot be shaken. Let’s not forget he tells us that we must remain, and we must abide in him if we are to become fruitful.
He is seeking a personal fellowship with us. It is my opinion that Christians find it harder to abide than to perform. We all have this self-driven attitude, we like to do things our way, “Gitter Done” becomes our mantra of choice. We live in a performance-driven society, but performance alone without intimacy doesn’t work well in settings that are designed for relationships, such as marriage. A relationship without intimacy can be a very cold and dry place. There is a place and time for a performance-driven mindset but not at the sacrifice of our abiding in him.
We must ask ourselves some tough questions given what Jesus has said about abiding in him. Question one, do we believe we are cut off and helpless without Christ. If so it should make a difference starting now, in how we live and view our lives. Question two, as Christians why do we do the things we do. is it of a sense of duty, or because of our desire to be in the lord’s presence seeing him face to face, knowing that without him we can do nothing? When we begin to let go of our sense of self and abide in Christ things start happening.
“If you want that splended power in prayer, you must remain in loving, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”