Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15.4 (ESV)
This is one of my most valuable verses in the Bible. It has guided me many times when I long for God’s Presence in my life.
It’s a constant reminder that Jesus longs for our life to be lived beyond mere believing in Christ into a relationship of deep abiding experience of God’s Presence.
Jesus tells us don’t be satisfied to stay at the place of belief in Jesus only, because there is a deeper awareness of God’s Presence possible in each moment for us that you don’t want to miss. Speaking very seriously, what good is it to know about Jesus but never deeply and intimately experience God’s Presence in us? It seems like we are leaving out of faith life the very best part! To be candid we are told that even the demons believe Jesus is the Son of God! (James 2.19)
Jesus is saying in simple terms if you ABIDE in me, I will ABIDE in you. To be clear that means that the healing power and life-giving transformation of Jesus ABIDing in me, if I ABIDE in Him! Are you kidding me? How life changing would that be! How could anyone not want this? How could we give anything less than our very best?
Have you experienced God abiding in you? Can you say you know the experience of God’s Presence? This passage says unless we do abide, we’ve missed the point. Isn’t that the ultimate tragic example of not getting it. It’s like training for the Olympic team and showing up at the games determined to ‘go for the BRONZE!”
In 1988 I had the distinct pleasure of being the Chairman of Technology for the Winter Olympic Games. It was an incredible experience, but of all the amazing sporting excellence on display the one person that had the greatest impact on me was a ski jumper by the name of Eddie the Eagle. Eddie, born Michael Edwards was an English ski-jumper and Olympian who, in 1988, became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski-jumping. (Do they even get snow in Great Britain?) Eddie came in dead last in both the 70m and 90m ski-jump events he competed in and his next closest athletes had double his point total!
But what stands out most about Eddie to me is his sheer determination and willingness to go for the Gold even though on his own it was very very likely impossible! He had a hunger because of his belief in something greater than himself to enter an event where the whole world was watching and the potential embarrassment huge. But he believed that there was more to his life than what he alone could experience.
It makes me wonder. What if we all became like ‘Eddie the Eagle’ in our pursuit of God? Knowing we were ill equipped to even compete, commit to stand up and make a commitment to pursue a fully surrendered relationship with Jesus, willing to let go of anything so we can be responsible to God’s grace? Take Jesus up on his promise in this verse and in fact it is true!
I remember Eddie not because he was the best skilled, or most powerful individual, but because he was the exact opposite, a living breathing model of openness to the possibility of what lies beyond our limits with God!
But what does it mean to ABIDE? The Greek word translates literally as lives in but has a deeper meaning of more than physical occupation.
When you abide you make a home in that place. You linger and God’s reality shapes yours. In a spiritual sense if you abide in a nonmaterial abode such as God, or the Word, or darkness or light, you are immersed in real Presence of God, you inhale the Holy Spirit, and it becomes part of you, you are surrounded by God’s Presence in every decision you make.
For example, if you abide in the Word of God, your mind will be fixed on God, your inner self will be shaped by God, and your whole self-will embody the truth of Christ in you. If you abide in God, God’s presence will influence and guide your actions.
To abide is to linger in a place, feeling, or nonmaterial substance in such a way that your inner person is shaped by the abode.
To abide in God is to linger in God, allowing yourself to be shaped by God.
When one abides in God, he is shaped by the goodness and truth of God, resulting in peace, rest, and joy.
Lord, may we first come to believe in what you have said, then may we seek after it in surrender and by your grace come to know the unspeakable beauty of abiding in you! Amen.