Abiding {What does it mean?}

“Abide in Jesus.” They are words we graffiti across our Christian community like a cheap slogan stripped off an overused t-shirt.

When life is going up in flames–the marriage is rocky, the kids are naughty, health is failing, friends are lame, the job is hellish–inevitably someone is going to come along and douse me with an ice-cold bucket of ‘abide in Jesus, just abide.’

And what exactly does that mean?

We do this sometimes–we talk about things we really don’t know anything about and because we are prone to spiritual laziness, we don’t take the time to find out. We live on an empty vernacular. Some people might call it B.S.

That is until you find yourself in some kind of I-can’t-breathe kind of desperateness. Then whatever it means to abide in Jesus needs to be understood ASAP because something inside is dying and is in need of an immediate intervention.

We hear Jesus instruct, no, actually he commands us to abide in him in John’s Gospel (chapter 15), in which we find an unavoidable theme: Dead things are brought to life. Future dreams are celebrated from reclaimed urns at a wedding in Cana (John 3). A dead reputation is restored to a life-parched Samaritan woman (John 4). A father is given back a son otherwise lost to early to illness (John 4). Lame legs walk (John 5). A stoning diverted (John 8). Blind eyes see (John 9). Lazarus. We  don’t get any deader than Lazarus, but then Jesus arrives and suddenly everyone is weeping with joy as they unbind him and let him go from memorial wrappings (John 10). All that’s dead is coming back to life again.

It is after these things and in the context of Jesus saying goodbye to his disciples that we hear about a vine, a vinegrower, a branch, and fruit. A garden a life. Not like the first garden, where death entered in. A new garden where everlasting life springs up. If we are going to understand what abiding is, we have to seek its understanding within the story where it is told. Cut, copy, paste doesn’t work when trying to understand and live into the hard sayings of Jesus at the make or break moments of daily life.

It was definitely a make or break moment for the disciples when they first heard these words. The hour has come. It’s time for Jesus to go and do his most important work. It’s time for him to land the plane, wrap up the sermon, make the important things unavoidably clear. He gives an object lesson on love (John 13), sets out a strategic plan for the future (John 14), and with death looming Jesus knows his disciples have to understand his mission {and subsequently, their mission} correctly; it’s test time, study hall is over. He recognizes what a mess they’re going to be without him physically present with them. They will fear death. They will think they have failed. They will feel like it’s the end and they’ll stall out and get stranded in a ditch.

We can relate to these feelings, right?

It’s why we need to understand and be able to lean into the real truth–not the slogan saying–of what it means to abide in Jesus. In the context of John’s gospel we know that as we do, there is to be found comfort, encouragement, life. Yes life…where maybe it feels like all there is right now is death. Jesus still delights in undoing death.

Over the next few days I am inviting you to join me in seeking the understanding of “abiding in Jesus.” I sense that so many of us are desperate for the life of Jesus to flow through us. I am.  So I will be opening up the conversation here for us to explore together, with the Spirit’s help. Tomorrow we will begin with “Abiding : A Place Where Christ is With Us.”

Do you have a place where you need Jesus to bring life to a dead or dying place?

8 thoughts on “Abiding {What does it mean?}

  1. Pingback: Abiding : The Place Where Christ is With Us | Once Upon a Truth

  2. Pingback: Abiding {In the Gaze of the Father’s Love} | Once Upon a Truth

  3. Pingback: Abiding {Remaining Where Christ is Already At} | Once Upon a Truth

  4. Pingback: Abiding {Dwelling Where Jesus Dwells} | Once Upon a Truth

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