What is Abiding?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
When asked about what was important to know from Scripture, Jesus said all of Scripture could be summarized in two directives- love God fully, and love other people. Loving people is more easily understood than loving God.
It is stated pretty clearly that loving others includes loving our enemies and being kind to those who despitefully use us. It involves sacrifice and servanthood.
There certainly are many books written about how to love others strategically. Ed Wheat in Love Life for Every Married Couple, identifies five different kinds of love that a couple can actively pursue and grow in their relationship.
Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, identifies five kinds of love that we all like, but goes on to say that we have a primary love language that we value more than the rest. He proposes we discover our mate’s primary love language and make sure that that expression of love gets our primary efforts.
Abiding in God is described by Jesus as He is having His last conversation with His disciples before being taken away for crucifixion. He tells them that if they will abide in Him they can have peace in spite of awful life circumstances. And, that they can have lives that are productive and fulfilling instead of empty.
As I have shared with you before, I like the way the Message translation of Scripture helps clarify what might otherwise seem difficult to understand. Try this out-- "Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing.
But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. (John 15:4-5,7)
Instead of using the phrase “abide in me,” like the King James version does, we are introduced to phrases like, -- " But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you…”
God wants time with us. He wants the time to be intimate. He wants it to feel comfortable.
It is interesting that the statistic for the amount of face-to-face time that fathers in our culture spend with their children individually is about 30 minutes a week. If we spend so little personal and intimate time with people we can see and love- then....
Going to church is not enough. It helps us get oriented to spiritual things, but it is typically not personal or intimate. To have intimate time you might, in the beginning, need to create reminders for yourself to take time to talk to and listen to God. You might consider developing the habits of intentional Bible reading during your day, and listening to Christian music on your ipod, TV, radio, or a CD in your car. Reading, The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence has changed many lives.
When Jesus talks about His words “being at home in us,” I think that means we read them, study them, and talk with friends and family about them. They actually become such a part of us, that how we think about our lives and the lives of others we come in contact with, is naturally guided by those words.
Are you ready to experiment with “abiding?”