I have been delving into a profound exploration of what it means to cultivate a deep, intimate relationship with Christ. A question constantly presents itself in this journey: what does it look like to abide in Him?
PAINTING BY VANESSA HORABUENA
Why does this path appear so challenging when we are invited to dwell in the divine depths of the close relationship He has called us to?
When I observe my surroundings, it distresses me to see a lack of commitment. Many seem content with a superficial relationship with Christ, scarcely scratching the surface of their spiritual potential. They are reluctant to risk everything for the love of Christ. There's an unsettling dearth of desire to abide in Him, as our heavenly Father has urged us.
The wise words of Andrew Murray, in his insightful book "Abiding in Christ," resonates with this observation. Many are comfortable with "coming to the Father." They gratefully accept God's grace, His forgiveness for their sins, and His comforting rest. They stand alongside Christ, praying to Him, singing praises, and indeed, they do approach Him. They embrace His teachings and appreciate His profound sacrifice. This journey to Him is not the issue; it's what comes next that challenges many. It’s the “abiding in Him” that trips men up.
In John 15, Jesus uses the analogy of a vine and its branches. He describes Himself as the vine and His followers as the branches, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between them. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit if it's not connected to the vine, followers of Jesus cannot bear spiritual fruit unless they remain closely connected to Him.
So, to "abide in Christ" means:
Dependence: Just as the branch is entirely dependent on the vine for nutrients and life, so we should be reliant on Christ for spiritual life, strength, and growth.
Continual Connection: Abiding in Christ isn't a one-time event. It's an ongoing, moment-by-moment connection with Him. It involves continually turning to Him in prayer, reading and reflecting on His words, and seeking His guidance in all aspects of life.
Obedience: Jesus links abiding in Him with obedience to His commands (John 15:10). To abide in Christ means to live in a way that aligns with His teachings and commands.
Fruitfulness: Abiding in Christ results in spiritual fruit. As we stay connected to Jesus, His life flows into us and enables us to bear fruit that brings glory to God (John 15:5).
Intimacy: Abiding in Christ also implies a deeply personal, intimate relationship with Him. It's more than just knowledge about Christ; it's an experiential knowing and loving of Christ.
In essence, abiding in Christ is about maintaining a close, personal relationship with Him, characterized by dependence, obedience, and fruitfulness. It's about letting His words shape our lives and His love fill our hearts. It's an ongoing, dynamic process of drawing near to Christ and living in a way that's deeply connected to Him.
Undoubtedly, abiding in Christ demands considerable sacrifice and surrender. Nevertheless, the return on this spiritual investment is invaluable and transformative. As Jesus profoundly stated in John 15:5, "Apart from me you can do nothing." My personal interpretation of this verse is that without Christ, we cannot accomplish anything of true significance.
However, the decision to wholly surrender oneself for His purpose and mission isn't made by many. Only a handful choose to tread the less traveled path, the narrow road, pledging their lives solely for His glory. They embrace humility to such an extent that they consider themselves mere conduits to further His kingdom. Only a select few choose this path. I harbor a deep longing for this Narrow Road. Will you join me on this Journey of answering the “Call to Abide in Christ?
John 15 1:17
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 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.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.