Chanson Newborn serves as a church planting strategist on the Church Planting Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
On my bedroom wall is a canvas that says one simple word. It’s a biblical word, but it isn’t a word that is used in our everyday language. The word? Abide. Every follower of Jesus that I know wants to live an effective life for Jesus. The key to succeeding in this is abiding in Him. The word abide means to live, to stay, to dwell, to continue, or to remain. The phrase “abiding in Christ,” pictures an intimate, close relationship and not just a superficial acquaintance.
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4 NRSV)
It was Passover, and Jesus had just finished dinner with His disciples. He washed their feet, sent Judas on his way, and then he and the remaining disciples made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 13, Jesus gives a series of farewell addresses that continue until chapter 17. He knows that He will soon be the crucified King, and in the middle of it all, He graciously reminds us to bear fruit by abiding in Him.
In John 15, Jesus describes Himself as the true Vine and His Father as the Vinedresser. Picture a vineyard. Jesus is the vine, and within the vine are all the nutrients that are needed for the branch to be healthy. You are the branch. The branch receives all that it needs through the vine. The branch can bear much fruit because the vine is providing all that the branch needs. For the branch to have fruit, it must abide. Likewise, if we want to bear spiritual fruit in our lives, we must abide in Him. If we do not abide, we will not see fruit in our lives.
My wife decided to plant a garden over the summer. She purchased a variety of plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon) and started this new journey of gardening. As the summer got busy, she inadvertently forgot to water the plants, choking them from their needed nourishment. One day, she turned around, and the plants had withered away. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a series of neglectful days. So, one by one, the branches had fallen off the vine from lack of care from the gardener.
Jesus explains that things will dry up in our lives if we are not abiding in Him. Have you ever been there? All of us have, and we get a picture of what it means to abide in Jesus in John 15:10 when He says, “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 daily decide to obey Him and love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). One way that we display our love for God is through prayer, reading Scripture, meditating, and trusting Him. We abide through choosing this loving relationship. When we choose to abide in God’s commandments and love wholeheartedly, we experience His power working through us and bear much fruit in our lives.
So now when I look at the canvas on my bedroom wall, it’s more than just an art piece that adds value to the room. It is a reminder of the privilege Christ offers us to draw closer to Him. May we yearn to know the depths and riches of the love of Christ through abiding.