What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?
Sometimes we hear something so often that our response is almost robotic. Sometimes certain words lose their meaning because we know the meaning so well that we don’t need to think about what they mean. By this I mean that we know the word and how to effectively use the word, yet, the significance of it escapes us. If you’ve used a thesaurus, you know what I mean.
Most words have several subtle meanings and ways to utilize them. How often have you heard the words hallelujah, faith, or hallowed be thy name? What about abide in me? To abide in the Lord means to keep Him in the forethought of all you do, right? Yes and no. Saying that it means to think about the Lord often is like saying a collar is a shirt. While it might be a part of a shirt, maybe even a very important part of a shirt, it is only a piece of what comprises a shirt.
One way to define abide is to say that it means to dwell or remain with someone. As Christians, we live with Christ every day of our lives. But there is so much more to abiding with God than just to be conscious of His presence. However, the meaning of abiding with Him varies from person to person because it is a very personal relationship. My life is different from your life. Therefore, when I abide with the Lord, it may be different from the way(s) you abide with the Lord. To obey, observe, follow, accept, heed, and defer to, are some of the ways we abide with the Lord. Although each of these is slightly different from the other, they all focus on the Lord as the Master.
Scripture confirms over and over, you cannot abide in two houses at once. If you are truly a disciple of the Lord, you must make it your soul and sole purpose to abide only in the Lord.
Anyone who lives to do the Lord’s purpose knows that very few, if any, attain the goal of abiding only and exclusively with the Lord. That’s not the point, obviously, as for most of us perfection in this is unattainable. The Lord accepts this, in that your goal is to never stop trying to abide on earth with Jesus as often and as resolutely as possible.
To abide with the Lord only, completely, would mean to reject all earthly pleasures. But that would necessitate finding no pleasure in all the incredible gifts He gives us in this life. Our friends and family are always the first gifts that come to mind. All that we experience through the five senses He has given us, and the love and friendship we receive from others are his gifts of love, gifts we, in turn, give back to him and to others.
To abide in the Lord is to abide in His love. To abide in His love is to be continuously aware of all the ways he shows us he loves us. To be aware of all the ways He shows us he loves us is to open ourselves to feel and experience that love in the multitude of blessings he fills our lives on earth with. To experience those blessings is to live in constant gratitude of how much He loves us and to love Him in return.
Included in these gifts are the sometimes difficult lessons He uses to guide us to be closer to Him, to abide with Him. The harder the lesson, the more he is showing his trust in our faith and that we will continue to abide in Him, to firm our dependence on him. Our purpose is to live up to that trust.
We can’t live in two houses at once. By living or abiding with the Lord, we open our hearts and lives to the world, loving it because it is His. We accept whatever gifts he bestows on us, knowing they are given out of love. To abide in the Lord is to abide in His love. As it is impossible to live in two houses at once, it is also impossible to abide in His love in all ways at once. His gifts are so plentiful, His love so abundant, that it becomes sensory overload making it necessary to acknowledge and abide in each gift and moment one at a time. This forces us to slow down and sink into that abiding moment, holding it in the center of our soul to examine it, to become more fully aware of it.
To abide with the Lord is to give these moments our total awareness. This is how we open to the Lord to absorb His presence. Consider abiding with the Lord by absorbing his presence and his love. The resulting peace is his greatest gift, abiding peace.