Paula writes about the importance of abiding in Jesus. Namely, she encourages us to pursue Him with sustained effort, comforted by the fact that, in Him, we can produce good fruit.
I have been listening to a song by The Worship Initiative called “Abide” on repeat at the moment. The lyrics are beautiful and help me cry out to God in prayer as I learn to depend on Him for everything.
One definition of Abide is to remain stable or fixed on a state. In today’s world I think there is such a longing to be able to fix our minds on truth and have stability.
As Christians we find that in the historic text of the Bible.
John 15 is a well known chapter and verse 4 is where we read the word ‘Abide’ for the first time: “Abide in me and I will abide in you” and they are repeated in verses 5 to 10.
Our Lord and Saviour is the Vine, we are the branches and Our Father God is the Gardener or Vine dresser depending on your translation (John chapter 15). (I love reading and re-reading verses in other translations to bring out the depth of a passage).
One of the ways we can abide in Him is by studying Theology. Theology (the study of God) matters and has mattered for 2000 years of church history. The reason why scholars took all that time to study was to know God and make Him known.
The goal of theology is intimacy with God and intimacy can’t be found on a 5 minute scroll of Instagram - it is the result of a long obedience in the same direction as Eugene Peterson would say (unapologetic book plug).
Yet, I wonder whether we’ve lost that obedience in our modern age. Sam Pascoe, a well known philosopher, wrote:
“Christianity started it in the land of the Bible, as a fellowship
and then moved on to Greece where it became an institution, a place you go
and then it moved to Rome where it became a philosophy, a way people think
and then moved to Europe where it became a culture, a way of life and then to America where it became an enterprise or a business and now it is all about what we do”
Lord, help us if our relationship with Jesus becomes about what WE do, when it’s all about YOU.
Abiding in Him is to constantly seek Him and grow in knowledge of Him through His Word - plus other books and commentaries to help with the historic context.
Abiding in Him is important. Before this chapter Jesus had been comforting the disciples and preparing them that He had to leave them. As such, these words are very meaningful when you realise they are some of His last to the disciples before His death.
You see, the more we know God, the more our love of God grows. A deep friendship results where we bear fruit from the close interconnected relationship with The Father, Son and Spirit.
John chapter 15 is a beautiful example of The Trinity at work in the lives of believers.
Abiding is enduring--staying the course even when those around you don’t.
We can take comfort in the fact that He will produce the fruit. We do not need to strive to make the fruit - it is a natural outworking of the Spirit from our relationship with Christ the Vine. The Father tends to everything and is constantly working, pruning where necessary and nourishing with the nutrients which come through Jesus the Word.
Pruning is never easy but it is necessary so that we get rid of false vines that are not grafted into the Vine.
I know for me that these are idols I have made instead of Jesus being my number one focus. I have made idols of family, work, ministries, home, friends, even church, instead of Him being Lord over all of these.
As branches we receive from Him which leads to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians chapter 5) that brings Him Glory.
Psalm chapter 46, verse 10 “Be Still and Know that I am God”, comes to mind when I think about abiding.
The reason Jesus Christ focuses on this important teaching is found in verse 11:
“These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy might be full.”
Our joy is not dependent on external resources but on Jesus.
Evidence of salvation
Let’s delight in Him as we remain in the Vine following His commands and producing fruit that brings Him Glory (verse 8). Then we will show everyone we are His disciples and we can love others as His love flows through us.
Our obedience and godly behaviour are not a means of salvation - we are already clean because of Jesus (verse 3). But, they are evidence of our salvation. How we live as we keep in step with the Spirit proves we are indeed children of God. Our works in the Spirit are our only eternal impact on the world.
We won’t be satisfied with shallow Christianity because it’s not how Jesus called His disciples to live. Let’s humbly turn to Him, plan to get in the Word daily and seek godly community.
I will end with the chorus of the song I mentioned at the start and pray these lyrics become a prayer as you read them.
“You are The Way The Truth and The Life
You are the well that never runs dry
I am the branch and you are The Vine
Draw me close and teach me to Abide”
Paula is a speech language therapist with pre-schoolers who have a disability. She and her husband, Jim, have been part of Windsor Park since moving from the UK 20 years ago.They are parents of two teens and are team leaders for year 10 youth. Writing is a new thing but one which she is enjoying as a way of expressing how God speaks and leads her in everyday life. // Photo: Kirstyn Paynter
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