What a special word is this – “abide.”
Do we ever stop to consider it’s special meaning and the context it gives to our relationship with God and with one another?
Far too often we think that it simply means to remain with one another: we stay with God and He with us.
A better way to think of it would be “we are in this together.” With that we get some better understanding of what it means to abide with someone or something.
To abide: to bear patiently; to endure without yielding; to wait for; to accept without objection; to remain stable or fixed; to continue in a place.
Does the true meaning – the full meaning of abide give a much greater depth to the words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel message today, especially in the context of both the hardships of living as a redeemed people in a broken world where there is much suffering and temptation AND way in which God continues to abide with us, despite our often going against His will.
Let us for a moment substitute our definitions of “abide” for the word itself in a few instances in the Gospel message, so that we might have a deeper sense of what we are called to do and what Jesus does.
“Endure without yielding, in me. Wait for me. Accept me without objecting. Remain fixed and stable in me. Continue in place and I will I endure without yielding, I will wait for you, I will bear patiently your sin. I will remain fixed and continue in place as your Redeemer.”
This is the essence of the Christian relationship with God in Christ Jesus. We are to remain in Him, loyal and without reservation, bearing all burdens in this world, trusting fully that he remains in us.
But how do we know we when we are abiding in the Lord and when we are not? 1 John 4 tell us that the answer is love the love that we have for one another is a sign that we abide with God and He with us.
“Beloved, If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another God abides with us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us.”
Love for one’s brother and sister is the hallmark of abiding in God and He in us. For it is only from God that love comes, as it came to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
But how then are we to love others? We are to love as Christ loves us, with an abiding love: a love that bears things patiently, that endures the burdens of relationships without yielding, a love that waits, a love that accepts without objection, a love that is fixed – that is stable, a love that remains in place despite the difficulties of doing so.
That is the love that we are called to exhibit to one another because that is the love that God exhibited to us when he suffered and suffers through our rebellion to His rule and to His Fatherly mercy.
It is the love of a Father for the prodigal son. The love of the shepherd for the lost sheep. It is the love of God.
How then do we exhibit such an abiding love as this? On our own we cannot. For that we must return to the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel account, for it only remaining in Jesus and following His word can we produce the good fruits of this love.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you…”
“As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. Whoever abides in me and I in him bears much fruit.”
It is only by remaining in the Word that Jesus gave us can we remain in an abiding love and in that abiding love for God show abiding love for others. Apart from it we can do nothing. Apart from it we are not part of the vine. We are just so many unconnected branches that produce no fruit whatsoever, and even the things that seem like fruit are not because they are not rooted in the God.
When we scorn our brother or sister, when we despise them, when we mistreat them, when we turn from them in their needs, when we do not suffer with them we are not showing an abiding love – a love that is from God and the hallmark of our abidance with him.
Those who are with God show love. Those who are not do not. They may show something the world calls love, but it is not grounded in God
So Abide in God and abide with one another.