Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:4-5.
Jesus gives some last instructions and words of wisdom to his disciples before he is arrested. He reminds them that the time they have shared together and all that he has been teaching them has prepared them for all that is to come. There is a caveat to the work ahead. If the disciples want to be involved in what God is doing on earth, they must abide in Christ. They must stay as close to Christ as a branch is with a vine. That’s pretty close.
Abiding doesn’t mean performing for approval. A branch does not perform and then look back to see if the vine approves or not. Nor does a branch disconnect from the vine and do anything that replaces the nutrients, power, and life that the vine gives. When a branch disconnects from its vine, it eventually dies. Abiding in Christ means living in and with that connection. It is life itself, breathing in and breathing out moment by moment. It is not a program or mandate; it is a way of being alive.
There is freedom abiding in Christ. We are not alone. We do not have the world resting on our shoulders. We are in this life with Christ. We are drawing from the strength and love of the one who came to earth for us! Not to harm us, but to show us what it looks like when the love of God is fully in human form.
Jesus, our trusted teacher, came to help us experience a different way. Our trusted teacher came to save us from distorted truths and a hijacked religious hierarchy that had lost connection with God’s loving intention for our lives on earth. Jesus came to redeem all these things and to fulfill the kingdom of God on earth. What a gift our Creator gave the world – and continues to give us every day.
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 10:10
We seem be in a constant stream of focusing on a group of people and literally tearing them apart with our opinions, judgements, and disappointments. We’ve seen it happen with law enforcement, teachers, doctors, nurses, and numerous other groups. A mistake by one person becomes a condemnation of everyone. An error that needs forgiveness and justice becomes a pass to never trust anyone again.
It may be that the noise of it all begins to make us think there are no trusted sources in a world that really needs wisdom to navigate through the circumstances of daily life. Hear the good news: Jesus is a trusted teacher. Jesus is the son of God; the Messiah the prophets said would come; the resurrected Christ that is with us even now. The teaching he shared while he was on earth is trustworthy. It is a teaching that sets us free. The way God continues to teach and guide us through the Holy Spirit is trustworthy. Abiding in Christ helps us remain tethered to that stream of wisdom.
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:11
Check out more of what Jesus said by reading the 15th chapter of John: https://bit.ly/3wT9pkf
Three simple ways to practice “abiding” in Christ right now:
- Read from the Gospels several times a week or even daily. Start small. Ready for five minutes. Read a chapter. When you finish all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), start back and begin again. We need to be reminded daily of these teachings. It provides focus and food for our spirit.
- Ask God to hold you close to the vine of Christ. Simple & powerful prayers:
“God, please keep me close to Christ today”.
“Lord, help me to walk faithfully through this day.”
“Jesus, come right away; I need help!”
“Christ, you are my vine; I am your branch; let it be.”
- Do one small act of kindness for someone. It can be as simple as saying, “I love you” to people in your household; taking a bouquet of spring flowers to a friend or stranger; thanking someone for their service (waiter; store attendant; co-worker; teacher; etc.); listen to the one who needs to simply say their things. Anonymous kindness strengthens the spirit. Known kindness strengthens relationships. It’s always good to intentionally be kind to others. How can you be kind to someone today?
Lord, when your ways are so different from ours, it is probably going to be hard for us to see. Please draw each of us and all of us near to you so when you teach us, we are able to comprehend. We want to abide in you, and we need you. We love you, Lord, and we trust you completely. You are our trusted teacher; our Savior; our friend. Amen.
My Trust in the Lord – Psalm 11