In John 15, Jesus speaks about Himself being the vine and his followers being the branches. He calls us to abide in Him and to bear much fruit. It is a passage many are familiar with, and the word “abide” is one we hear often. Chances are you’ve studied this word in a devotional, meditated on it at a women’s gathering, or come across it in your social media feed. Here are just a few of the top results from a quick social media search of the word “abide”:
When asking Christian women on the college campus what they think it means to abide in Christ, answers I have often heard include “to rest in Christ,” “to be still and near Jesus”, “to stop trying so hard,” and other similar thoughts. I think we often believe to abide simply means to rest and relax while we think about Jesus. To brew up a warm vanilla latte and spend hours in the Word with Him in a hip coffee shop (you would probably be amazed by the amount of “Abide” coffee mugs that exist in the world). But abiding in Christ is so much more! This fluffy pop-Christian culture version of “abiding” is watered down and robs us of the true beauty of faithfully abiding in Christ.
Naturally then, we have to ask:
What does it mean to abide?
How do we abide in Jesus?
Thankfully, the answer is straightforward if we continue reading John 15. Jesus tells us in verse 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.”
To abide in Jesus is to obey the commandments He has given us.
But that sounds exhausting. Aren’t there so many commands?! Isn’t this just legalism?! What about grace?! We might find ourselves then beginning to sound like the Israelites in Malachi 1 (who were being instructed to obey the Lord’s commands): “My, how tiresome it is!’ And you [Israelites] disdainfully sniff at it.”
To keep Christ’s commandments…as in ALL of them? Exhausting.
To obey the Lord our God…as in obeying in EVERYTHING? Legalism.
But Jesus died for my sin…so because there’s grace why would I do the hard work of pursuing holiness and righteousness?
But with this sinful heart attitude, we miss so much. There is true rest in abiding in Christ and pursuing to live holy lives:
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3
Are you keeping His commandments in your life? What rest to be assured that we have come to know Him…to know that we are His children and will spend eternity with Him!
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:28-29
Will you stand confidently when He comes again? Do you practice righteousness? What rest to know that we are born of Him!
“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” 2 John 1:6
Do you live and walk according to His commandments? What rest to know we can experience and give true love!
To abide in Christ is to obey the commandments He has given us. As we follow and obey, we can have peace and find rest as we are assured we know God. Obeying these commandments will not be as comfortable or as easy as sipping a vanilla latte while journaling, but obedience will be infinitely more restful and peace-giving!
Is there anything more restful than knowing we will spend eternity in heaven with our Creator!