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Staying With vs. Staying Put
Posted on June 11th, 2011

John 15:7-11

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

In John 15 Jesus outlines for us how we can “bear much fruit” in a way that will not only glorify God but also so that “your joy may be full”. The way that we do this is if we “abide” or “remain” in Christ as he is the vine and we are the branches. This is an easy metaphor to understand because we know that if a branch doesn’t stay connected to a vine it won’t bear any fruit, but what exactly does it mean to abide? Is this a command to be passive or active?

The answer is that this is command that will require both. For me the problem is that I too often just focus on the passive nature of this command. The call to just be in Christ and be satisfied. The issue with this is that when I only focus on this aspect of abiding it can leave me simply staying put vs. staying with Christ.

The answer I believe lies in verse 10 when Jesus 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.” We have to look at how Jesus kept his Father’s commandments to get an understanding of what it means to abide.

You see, for Jesus it was not merely about knowing the Father and being satisfied. For Jesus this meant a life of complete radical obedience to God. Jesus went where God commanded him to go, and said what the Father commanded him to say. Whatever God asked, whenever God asked it. His heart stayed in sync with the Father’s heart at all times. I’m sure that being “in Christ” might mean something more profound than being in sync with His heart but it is certainly not less.

If remaining in Christ means that we are to stay in sync with him, then to abide we must stay with Him. It means not just abiding in the aspects of Christ where I feel comfortable or gifted. It means not just a life of general obedience but specific obedience as well. This means when Christ calls me to go and witness to my neighbor, then to not follow him is to not abide in him. If God calls me half way across the world and I don’t go, then I am no longer abiding in Him. If God calls me to show grace and mercy to someone I feel doesn’t deserve it and I withhold that then I am not remaining with him. His heart and my heart are now out of sync.

Of course we will not be able to do this perfectly like Christ did but it is still what we should be aiming for. This also doesn’t mean that if you don’t do this perfectly that you won’t bear any fruit or have any joy. I do believe however that the fruit we bear and the joy we have is directly related to how much we abide. Isn’t this what Christ said in chapter 15? We should have a holy discontent with the level of fruit we bear and the joy we have because He is always offering us more.

So if you are like me and would like to see more fruit in your life, then here are some questions we must ask ourselves. Where does Christ go that I will not follow? What are some areas and times in my life that I don’t abide with Christ? Is it personal evangelism? Is it trusting Him with your finances? Is it serving others? For all of us there are specific things that God is calling us to be personally obedient in. We must trust that He is the good shepherd that leads us where we need to go. The more we follow the more we will experience the abundant life he came to offer. So abide in Him but don’t just stay put, stay with Him as well.

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