For the past few weeks, maybe a couple months, the word abide has been showing up and bouncing around in my head. What does that even mean and how does it apply to me as a Christian. I have had a hard time reconciling the tangible with the intangible.
By definition, abide means to lodge or stay. It carries the idea of an inn or a place to stay when on a journey. When you see abide in the Bible there is one word used for all the references, so in the Old Testament it’s the same for the journeys of the patriarchs as when we are told to abide in the shadow of the almighty. Jesus also uses the same word, just the Greek version, when preaching about the vine and the branches.
How do we physically abide in a spiritual thing? I have been pondering that question, trying to make practical sense of this concept. To understand it, we need to look into the parallel that is drawn here between the physical and the spiritual.
If we were to take a journey, we would set out and need to find food and lodging along the way. We need nourishment for our bodies, shelter from the weather, and protection from physical threats. In the same way we are on a spiritual journey and have the same needs. We need nourishment for our souls, shelter from the storms of life, and protection from the devil and his schemes.
When we are on a physical trip, we look for food when we begin to feel hungry. We start looking for a hotel as evening approaches. Most importantly, we find someplace that feels safe and secure. In the same way, on our spiritual journey, we start praying when the storms of life begin to hit. We know enough to know God is our rescue and our strength.
However, abiding in Christ changes that scenario. If we are on a physical trip, we are more likely to plan it out and figure out where we will be when it’s time to find lodging and make reservations ahead of time. We will research the area and find places to visit and things to do, maybe even good places to eat beyond the chain restaurants. That’s the equivalent to abiding in Christ.
While we can’t know what will happen on our spiritual journey, we can prepare ourselves and that is what abiding in Christ is all about. Abiding in Christ is the things that we do to prepare us for life, just as we would plan out a trip we plan to take. We can’t plan the specifics, because of the faith nature of our spiritual walk. But preparations still need to be made.
First, we must find our nourishment in God’s Word. To do that, we must be reading the Bible consistently, meditating on scripture, and committing it to memory.
Second, we must find shelter from the storms of life. To that, we must spend time in prayer, taking care to not just bring our requests for God but to praise Him, worship Him and offer prayers of thanks.
Third, we must find protection from the devil and his schemes. We do that when we use what we have learned by studying God’s word and through prayer together in spiritual warfare. We cannot find protection and use scripture and prayer if we have not been faithful in our bible reading, meditation, memorization, and prayer.
So abiding in Christ isn’t that complicated after all. It is simply a call to be walking with the Lord daily, spending time reading His word and in prayer. Abiding in Christ, as Jesus calls us to do in John………, is a call to remain in and develop a relationship with Him.
How do you know if you are abiding in Christ?
Instead of looking for nourishment when you’re starting to feel empty, you will be filled with God’s word continually. When the storms of life hit, you will feel secure in God’s sovereignty rather than panicking. You will also be better able to discern the devil and be equipped to do spiritual battle with scripture and through prayer. Another characteristic of the person who abides in Christ is the tendency to pray first and often throughout the day.
So, what if that doesn’t describe you? Don’t be discouraged. Abiding is an invitation from Jesus himself and it also develops over time as we mature in our faith. Just like how you didn’t know everything about your spouse on your first date but as time passed you learned more and more about that person. Your love changed from superficial to deep and the level of trust changed as well. Your relationship with the Lord is the same. If you haven’t been walking with the Lord very long, abiding in Christ is a discipline and habit to develop. It takes intentionality on your part and you can start today!
As we are just inside a brand new year, what a beautiful journey you can take this year! May this be the year that you deepen your relationship in the Lord and abide more fully in Him.