How it is that we are to “abide in Christ”
When I wrote my first book, Grace Walk, in 1995 there were things I said then that I’d say differently today. Things I think I could have made clearer. The topic of abiding in Christ is one of those subjects.
I wrote a lot in the book about the importance of abiding in Christ. My jumping off place for that was the words of Jesus in John 15:4 where Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” The metaphor Jesus used was the vine and the branches, with the point being that our only role is to “hang out” with Him and depend on Him to be the One who produces whatever fruit comes through our lives.
Over the past 15 years, many people have asked me exactly how it is that we are to “abide in Christ.” It’s a good question that deserves an answer. The paradox in telling people to abide in Christ is that they may think there’s something they need to do for that to happen. The reason it’s a paradox is because the very idea of abiding in Christ moves us away from doing something to a place of rest, trusting that He’s the One who does what needs to be done.
Simply put, to abide in Christ means one thing: to relax and trust His indwelling Life to motivate and mobilize our actions. It means to know that it’s not up to us to make something happen. It means to trust Him and stop worrying about ourselves. In fact, it means to take our eyes off ourselves and just look at Him, knowing that there’s nothing we have to do and that He will show us when to act and what to do when it’s time to do it. It’s a life of rest.
The irony of it all is that we really can’t do anything but abide in Christ. After all, our very life is found in Him. So there’s a sense in which we abide at every moment no matter what. To be told to “abide” simply means to recognize the reality of our union with Him and to give up any silly notions we may have that we have anything to contribute to this arrangement.
Fruit Doesn’t Struggle
Fruit on the vine doesn’t struggle to grow, to be tasty or anything else. It just hangs there and the nutrients from the earth come up through the vine into the branches and the fruit is the natural (actually, it’s supernatural) result. That’s how it is when we understand abiding in Jesus Christ.
Don’t sweat it. Just take your hands off your own life; off your circumstances and your challenges and your self effort and your attempt to navigate your present life and design your future. He has it all under control. So just relax and say, “thank you very much” and when you’ve done that, you are abiding in the active sense of the word.