Abiding is a command
A person’s last words before he or she dies are precious, a treasure to those left behind and an insight to the soul. How much more sacred are the words of Jesus, then, spoken to His chosen followers at the Last Supper?
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus urges His disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it abides on the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
Jesus had already stooped low to wash the disciples’ feet, including those of Judas His betrayer. But then Judas left to turn Jesus over to the temple police and Roman soldiers, and only the true disciples remained. Jesus commanded them - in agape love - to abide in Him.
Abiding in Jesus is both a covenant and a command, a connection and communion, and ultimately, a choice we make daily.
Jesus knows our faith cannot endure without the unceasing sustenance only He can give, which is why He commands us to abide in Him. As I often tell my children, any command God gives us is ultimately for our protection. He is not lording His authority over us, although all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Jesus is giving us the model for how to live life abundantly within the safe boundaries of His provision.
God’s commands are for our good and for His glory.
The God who became flesh and made His dwelling among us is not a God of rules, although at first glance you might mistake Him to be so. He is a God of relationship. From the very beginning, God's heart was set on rescuing and restoring His beloved, pursuing us despite our rebellion and rejection.
After Adam and Eve broke the command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, they were naked but covered in shame. God’s tender Father heart grieved over the separation and humiliation their disobedience brought upon them.
In His mercy, “God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and He clothed them” (Genesis 3:20). God covered them with a sacrifice He provided, a foreshadowing of what He did for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds” (I Peter 2:24).
God provides for us, covers us, cleanses us, shelters us, redeems us, refreshes and restores us. He abides in us, the new tabernacle and temple, as He allows His Spirit to indwell us. God doesn’t just save us; He sanctifies us. He heals us. He sets us apart for the great works He's prepared in advance for us. He clothes us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience just as He clothed Adam and Eve (Colossians 3:12).
"Abiding in Jesus is a command given to transform you, not control you." - Christi Smith
When we abide in Jesus, we are also abiding in His Word and His love. Biblical love cannot exist without biblical truth, and God is the essence of both love and truth.
“All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees” (Psalm 25:10).
We cannot know or follow Jesus if we don’t know and follow His living, active Word as revealed in Scripture.
“If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).
It's not enough to read the Bible once through or to cherry pick verses that validate what we already think. The Bible is not a book to be conquered but cherished, explored, revered, studied and savored until our final breath.
When we abide in Jesus, we are letting the Word of God dwell richly in us to renew our minds, reform our desires, and redirect our wills.
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
Abiding in Jesus is a command given to transform you, not control you. But this transformation isn't going to happen by accident. It will take following through on the command to abide in Jesus, His Word and His love, even on the days we don't feel like it.
Active abiding means setting aside time daily for Scripture reading and prayer, possibly taking pen to paper to journal or write down Bible verses to post in your home and car to help your heart remember, and returning to God again and again and again throughout the day.
When we store up God's Word in our hearts, it will change the direction of our lives so that we aim for holiness and selflessness instead of sin and selfishness (Psalm 119:11). We won't do this perfectly, but we will do it eagerly as we abide in Jesus.
The Bible connects us to Jesus, so that we don't drift from His heart. When days roll by without an intentional rhythm of abiding, we will notice old habits and hangups rearing their ugly heads. But when we are abiding in God's Word, there will be a noticeable difference for the good in the way that we live and respond to others.
The result of abiding in Jesus is becoming more like Jesus.
God designed our relationship with Him to rub off on us, like close friends who spend lots of time together and begin to absorb the same sayings and mannerisms.
“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).
We have been chosen to abide in the King of kings and to become like Jesus. When we abide in God's Word, a humility and reverence will wash over us so that we desire for God's will to be done and His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10). We will soon realize that His thoughts and ways are higher and better. He is wise, and we are not.
As we behold the glory of the Lord through Scripture, we will be transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Conforming to Christ is an eternal prize that brings the most freedom, the most joy, the most love, the most wisdom, and the most peace. The Holy Spirit working in and through us is the most generous and intimate gift God has given us.
We have been chosen to become like Jesus. But we must follow His command to abide in Him. We must prioritize time with the Lord over time with the world.
We cannot fulfill the greatest commandments, “to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind” and “to love our neighbors as ourselves” without obeying the most basic and necessary command to abide in Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39).
Abide, dear friend. Be loved. Be held. Be protected. Be transformed. Be more like Jesus today.