What is it that God would say to you on the brink of utter desperation? Upon losing hope, and friendship, and direction in life? What is something He would say if you were facing the unknown? If you felt lonely? If you were questioning the meaning and purpose of your life?
Abide in Me, and I in you. John 15:4
This was spoken on the last evening the disciples would enjoy a meal together with Jesus, the last evening that they would listen to their beloved Teacher and Friend prior to the crucifixion. One of the simplest and yet most profound teachings; something He began teaching toward the beginning of His ministry (see John 6, and this post.) And now Jesus would reiterate, and expand upon the teaching of Abiding just before He was crucified. Would these words ring in their ears through the coming days of waiting and wondering?
Would the sadness and loss and despair help them question the meaning of these words?
The disciples needed to know that though the shape and dynamic of their relationship would change, He would never leave them. Though Jesus would soon physically ascend into heaven, He would never leave them as orphans. He would send the Spirit, He would abide in them, and they could then know Him more deeply than before. In the perilous times they faced, they needed to be told: Abide in Me, and I in you. As they ventured into their futures, filled with tribulation and martyrdom, they went knowing He abides in them, and they in Him.
The same call and promise comes to us in the Gospel. Abide.
On our worst days.
On our most weary days
On the days we have much to rejoice over
On our most perplexing days
On our most ordinary, quotidian days
Day after day we too need to heed the call to abide.
And in the midst of whatever sort of day you face, the call is attended by the promise: I will never leave you nor forsake you. You, beloved, are His home. And the Church collectively is His home. He is not leaving. He delights in unchanging love. We are fickle, we leave, we abandon and look for a church that “meets my needs” or is “up to date” or has let go of the Word for the sake of “inclusiveness” or “a fresh word” or some other temporal catch phrase. He is faithful to His Bride, and will stand at the door knocking.
Each of us has our own particular story, our own struggles, our own dailyness that we try to do life in. Did Jesus want to say “abide in Me” as an answer to what we face? Does Jesus want you to remain and rest and live in His love, knowing that your heart is His home?
It may not seem utilitarian enough–which our culture has been obsessed with since the industrial revolution. Yet, in Christ, you will experience the redemption that your soul craves, and needs, in order to flourish. Such knowledge will enable you to live the life you were created for (which includes being useful, in His kingdom, being a blessing to the community you live in. So you see it is more utilitarian in the end).
If we face a pandemic, would the Spirit still prod you toward abiding? Yes.
If parents everywhere were facing new and perplexing decisions about their children’s future, would He call “abide in Me, rest a while in Me, walk with Me, you will not face this alone?”
If racism and hatred were tearing apart our cities, our communities, our hearts, would the Spirit call out to His own “Abide! Eat of My flesh and go on feasting!” from John 6, John 14-17, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John?
Would He want our local churches to listen as He says:
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 4-9
Abide in Christ. Abide in His words. Abide in His love. Enfold one another into this abiding life, share the gospel in loving words and deeds, and watch the Light expel the darkness from our hearts, and communities.
Check back soon for more on abiding. There will be one post per month on Abiding in Christ through September.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash