Christians often talk about abiding in Christ. And Scripture uses the term “abide” numerous times. What does it really mean to “abide in Christ?”
“As fragrance abides in the flower
As reflection is within the mirror,
So does your Lord abide within you,
Why search for him without?”
Many times we seem to be in a perpetual search for Jesus. We look all around us to see evidence of Him working in our lives. In reality, though – He’s not “out there” – He’s right here, within each of us, if we allow Him to be. It reminds me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she says, “…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” The truth is, we don’t have to look for Him, we simply have to look within ourselves.
Two weeks ago we spoke about getting back to basics. Last week, we spoke about deciding whether we are “Fans” or “Followers” of Christ. One of the basics of our faith, and one of the ways we become “Followers” of Christ, is to abide in Him. In John 15:4-5, Jesus tells us, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” 1 John 2:28 tells us “And now, little children, abide in Him…” Today, I’d like to examine what it means to Abide in Christ.
First, we need to understand the meaning of abide. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, abide means:
- Endure without yielding
- To bear patiently
- To accept without objection
- To remain stable or fixed in a state
- To continue in a place
- And, when we the word “by,” as in “abide by,” it means to conform or adhere to (abide by the rules)
The Greek word used in Scripture is Meno. According to Strong’s Concordance (#3306), Meno means to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy. Words that are interchangeable are: to continue, to dwell, to endure, and to be present.
From these definitions, we see that to abide in Christ means that we endure, we bear things patiently, we accept Him without objection, we remain stable and continue in our faith and our relationship with Him, and we adhere to His teachings.
One With God
We know that Jesus is one with God. John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus’ desire was that our relationship with Him would be of such oneness that we would share His oneness with God.
In His prayer as related to us in John 17:21, He prayed, “…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Jesus knew He was one with God. And one of His strongest desires was that we would be one with Him and, through Him, we would be one with God.
And how do we know that we’re one with Him? First, because from the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior and became Christian, His Spirit was poured out on us. Scripture assures us of this in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” And 1 John 4:13 tells us, “This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”
Second, we know that we’re one with Him when every aspect of our lives is driven by His teaching. 2 John 9 tells us, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” And what was Christ’s greatest teaching? Love one another as He loves us. (John 13:34)
When we recognize the Gospel as truth, and we strive to live the teaching of the Gospel, we abide with God, and God abides with us. 1 John 2:24 assures us that keeping His teachings is key to abiding in Christ: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.”
Abide in Love
Remember the Greek meaning of abide? Stay in a given state. Stay in a given relation. Continue. Remain.
To abide in love means, literally, to live our lives in a state of love – love toward God, love toward Jesus, and love toward one another. It means to continue in love, remain in love, endure in love, be patient in love. This is what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 13 – love is patient…love protects, trusts, hopes, and endures. Regardless of where we are, what we’re doing, what’s going on around us – no matter the circumstance – love must be the driving force of all we think, say, and do.
Scripture reminds us of this over and over again. 1 John alone stresses the point three times:
- 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
- 4:12 – “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
- 4:16 – “…God is love, and whoever remains (abides) in love remains (abides) in God and God (abides) in him.”
Back to our original question – What does it mean to Abide in Christ? It means we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, and from that moment His Spirit is poured out on us. It means that through His Spirit being poured out on us, we are one with Him; and through Him, one with God. To Abide in Christ means we study and follow (abide by) the Gospel teachings. By so doing, it means that, since God is love, we are to be examples of that love in every aspect of our lives – every thought, every interaction, every conversation, every relationship. When we are that truly One with God, when we truly Abide in Christ, He is so much a part of our very being that we don’t need to look for Him elsewhere. Like Dorothy, we simply need to look within our own hearts to find Him.
- John 15:5
- 1 John 2:28
- John 10:30
- John 17:21
- 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
- 1 John 4:13
- John 13:34
- 2 John 9
- 1 John 2:24
- 1 John 4:7-8
- 1 John 4:12
- 1 John 4:16
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