"Remain in me, and I will remain in you." (Luke 15 verse 4) Some of Christ's most famous words to his chosen disciples while he walked on the Earth. Now, as Jesus's disciples 'for such a time as this', the command falls down to us. The King James Version uses the word abide; Jesus calls us to abide in him.
The question I was confronted with today, as I sat in reflection during the worship time of my small group, was did I? Today, did I abide in Christ? At the end of what was a long day, a good and joyful day, a productive day, and a day I began with a quiet time full of sweet communion with the Lord, did I abide in him?
The answer for my day, though irrelevant to the larger issue here, was yes. And no.
During parts of my day I abided in Christ; like when I felt him catch my attention and call me to pray for the Muslim owners of the gyro take-away shop from which I bought my dinner. Or when shopping at Target I felt the lavishness of his love as I was just browsing through aisles.
But during other times of the day, He was nowhere to be found in my thoughts; as I pondered whether to keep or return a skirt I bought earlier and what I wanted to do that evening.
Each day is winding and complex, but abiding in Christ does not have to be. What does it mean to abide in something? What does it look like practically? How will I know if I am abiding in something other than the Lord at any given moment? Some questions can be asked inwardly to judge in what or whom we are abiding at any given moment are:
- Who am I thinking about right now?
- Who am I discussing my imminent decisions with? Myself or the Lord?
- What purposes am I working towards right now?
- What am I valuing right now?
- What is serving as my source right now?
- What am I worshipping right now? Attending to? Giving my attention to?
What do you feel grounded in?
In short, where is the strength I have to live this moment (because every moment we live and breathe requires strength from somewhere) coming from? What we abide in at any given moment is our source of life for that moment.
There are many things we draw strength from outside of Christ. Examples include our physical strength, a human relationship, or a sense of accomplishment. Other things we can abide in can be found in examining popular sayings of society. "When you look good, you feel good" for example, indicates abiding in physical appearance. People that feel good about their physical appearance can often be found abiding in it because it a steady source of joy for them.
I have found the quicker I notice myself abiding in something other than God and repent, praying for the grace to abide in only him, the easier it becomes to abide in him once more.
A quick little theological aside: God's command to abide in Him only (like all his commands) is given 100% in love. He knows that he is the only source of joy that is truly constant, and will not trap and enslave us to its yoke. God only ever has our good in mind. Also, what we abide in tends to quickly attach itself to our identity, and God knows that the only identity we need or should ever have is found in Him and Him alone.
No yoke of burden
One final thought: do not let the enemy twist this idea into a yoke of burden around your neck. "Abiding in Christ" is not another thing you have to do, nor is it another religious duty to perform.
Your only task is to ask God to teach you to abide in Him, and then sit back and watch him work. It is meant to, and will, bring you the greatest freedom. He is your never failing, never ending source of strength and to abide in him is to have unmitigated access to that strength. As the Psalmist writes, "my flesh and my heart may fail, but you remain the strength of my heart forever" (Psalm 73 verse 26)
So what do you have to lose? If you want, even now, just pray these simple words from your heart, "Lord, teach me to abide in you."
I promise you won't regret it.
Tina Hakimi is an Arizonian- Australian writer. She would love to drink a proper cappuccino at some point in the near future, but is hindered by her current planting in American soil. She enjoys writing as her only creative outlet, because unfortunately the Lord has not blessed her with a voice to sing (what she wishes was her true creative outlet).
Tina Hakimi's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tina-hakimi.html