What a great word! Abiding. Sounds like something I want to do right? Well, maybe not. The definition of abide is “accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation)”. When I look at what abiding actually means, accept or act in accordance with, that does not seem like the warm fuzzy I imagine. I have always pictured myself sitting on the lap of Christ soaking up His love – abiding in Him and not doing much else.
In John 15 I see abiding through a different lens. “Abide in me, and I in you. 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. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (vs. 4-6, ESV) Wow, that is some recommendation from God!
At first glance this seems harsh to me. As I look closer at these verses I begin to see the extraordinary grace God provides for me. I want to bear fruit! I really do! He is the vinedresser. He does all the work. I don’t have to muster up the nourishment to produce fruit. As a matter of fact, I am unable to produce anything on my own. The pressure is off! This does not mean I simply sit and think of how much He loves me, I am given the opportunity to respond, to submit to the vinedresser.
I love how these verses fit in with one of House of Hope’s core values – Surrender to Jesus. At House of Hope, we submit to the authority and glory of Jesus. We let Him define the agenda and the pace. We worship, pray, listen, and obey. We listen with humility to Jesus in each other. We put our trust fully in Jesus’ goodness, faithfulness, and power. We crucify our self-reliance and look to Him as sole provider of all of our needs. We embrace our weakness and need as space for His strength and faithfulness. We carry His presence boldly. We take risks. We live a life of joyful expectancy.
When we abide in Christ, we do spend time sitting on his lap soaking up His love. We also submit to Him and rely on Him. We follow Him wherever He takes us! Abiding in Christ is not a statement of passivity; it’s a statement of action. This past year has been a year of growth for me. I chuckle as I write this. Yes indeed, a year of growth. Have I ever wanted to say, “Ok God, I like the “size” I am right now- I’m ready to stop growing.” Yes. Absolutely. But I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of submitting to the authority of Christ, of trusting Him completely, of following Him wherever He has led me, of allowing Him to strip me of self-reliance, of looking to Him as my sole provider of ALL my needs. I have been soundly pruned.
John 15 goes on to say, “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. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”vs. 10-11. I don’t know about you, but I relish the love and joy that only Christ can provide. Being pruned is SO WORTH IT! I have come to cherish abiding in the vine. I am beginning to bear much fruit. How exciting! Praise God! If you are in a pruning season of your own do not lose heart. Do not grow weary. Surrender completely to Jesus. It’s so worth it.