Abide in Christ – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace
Abide in Christ – Introduction

Christians often talk about abiding in Christ. And Scripture uses the term “abide” numerous times. What does it really mean to “abide in Christ?”

Spiritual Quote

“As fragrance abides in the flower
As reflection is within the mirror,
So does your Lord abide within you,
Why search for him without?”
~Guru Nanak

Thoughts

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.”

Closing Thoughts

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.

Scripture

  • 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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Agents for Change – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceAgents For Change – Introduction

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – a national holiday set aside to remember one of the greatest agents for peace in our nation’s history. Today I’d like to examine a few of Dr. King’s quotes, some of their ties to Scripture, and, in remembering him, we’ll discuss how they might apply to us today.

Spiritual Quote

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoughts

Most, if not all of us are familiar with the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, I thought we might spend just a little time remembering his work as an Agent For Change. And, with tomorrow being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I thought we might discuss ways in which we can celebrate this holiday beyond what is for some, just having an excuse for a day off.

To begin, I’d like to share a little history that I found on History.com:

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

The King family had been living in Montgomery for less than a year when the highly segregated city became the epicenter of the burgeoning struggle for civil rights in America, galvanized by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks (1913-2005), secretary of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus and was arrested. Activists coordinated a bus boycott that would continue for 381 days, placing a severe economic strain on the public transit system and downtown business owners. They chose Martin Luther King Jr. as the protest’s leader and official spokesman.

By the time the Supreme Court ruled segregated seating on public buses unconstitutional in November 1956, King, heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and the activist Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), had entered the national spotlight as an inspirational proponent of organized, nonviolent resistance. (He had also become a target for white supremacists, who firebombed his family home that January.) Emboldened by the boycott’s success, in 1957 he and other civil rights activists–most of them fellow ministers–founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group committed to achieving full equality for African Americans through nonviolence. (Its motto was “Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed.”) He would remain at the helm of this influential organization until his death.

King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

In his role as SCLC president, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled across the country and around the world, giving lectures on nonviolent protest and civil rights as well as meeting with religious figures, activists and political leaders. (During a month-long trip to India in 1959, he had the opportunity to meet Gandhi, the man he described in his autobiography as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”) King also authored several books and articles during this time.

In 1960 King and his family moved to Atlanta, his native city, where he joined his father as co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. This new position did not stop King and his SCLC colleagues from becoming key players in many of the most significant civil rights battles of the 1960s. Their philosophy of nonviolence was put to a particularly severe test during the Birmingham campaign of 1963, in which activists used a boycott, sit-ins and marches to protest segregation, unfair hiring practices and other injustices in one of America’s most racially divided cities. Arrested for his involvement on April 12, King penned the civil rights manifesto known as the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” an eloquent defense of civil disobedience addressed to a group of white clergymen who had criticized his tactics.

King Marches for Freedom

Later that year, Martin Luther King Jr. worked with a number of civil rights and religious groups to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a peaceful political rally designed to shed light on the injustices African Americans continued to face across the country. Held on August 28 and attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 participants, the event is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the history of the American civil rights movement and a factor in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The march culminated in King’s most famous address, known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, a spirited call for peace and equality that many consider a masterpiece of rhetoric.

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial–a monument to the president who a century earlier had brought down the institution of slavery in the United States—he shared his vision of a future in which “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” The speech and march cemented King’s reputation at home and abroad; later that year he was named Man of the Year by TIME magazine and in 1964 became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the spring of 1965, King’s elevated profile drew international attention to the violence that erupted between white segregationists and peaceful demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, where the SCLC and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had organized a voter registration campaign. Captured on television, the brutal scene outraged many Americans and inspired supporters from across the country to gather in Selma and take part in a march to Montgomery led by King and supported by President Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973), who sent in federal troops to keep the peace. That August, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote–first awarded by the 15th Amendment–to all African Americans.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Years and Assassination

The events in Selma deepened a growing rift between Martin Luther King Jr. and young radicals who repudiated his nonviolent methods and commitment to working within the established political framework. As more militant black leaders such as Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998) rose to prominence, King broadened the scope of his activism to address issues such as the Vietnam War and poverty among Americans of all races. In 1967, King and the SCLC embarked on an ambitious program known as the Poor People’s Campaign, which was to include a massive march on the capital.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, King was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, where he had traveled to support a sanitation workers’ strike. In the wake of his death, a wave of riots swept major cities across the country, while President Johnson declared a national day of mourning.

James Earl Ray (1928-1998), an escaped convict and known racist, pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. (He later recanted his confession and gained some unlikely advocates, including members of the King family, before his death in 1998.)

After years of campaigning by activists, members of Congress and Coretta Scott King, among others, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) signed a bill creating a U.S. federal holiday in honor of King. Observed on the third Monday of January, it was first celebrated in 1986.

Agents For Change

Rev. Dr. King was one of the greatest agents for change in American history. And his ideals were deeply rooted in Scripture. I’d like to share a few of his quotes, and some Scripture that not only supports his statements, but can be used by us today so that we, too, can be Agents For Change.

  • John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
  • MLK – “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
  • Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
  • MLK – Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others.'”
  • 1 John 2:9 – “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”
  • MLK – “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • Romans 10:12 – “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,”
  • MLK – “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  • Romans 2:11 – “For God does not show favoritism.”
  • MLK – “Red and Yellow, Black and White…We’re all precious in His sight.”

National Day of Service

Rev. Dr. King truly lived by the principles taught by Scripture. So can we. We just have to set our minds to it. If we simply remember these few Scriptures, and apply them in our lives every day, we too will be Agents For Change. One of the ways we can do this is by commemorating Martin Luther King Day as a Day of Service. How many of us here today even knew that there is a National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Day? Well, there is. In answer to the question posed in our opening quote – What are you doing for others? –  Americans across the country come together each year on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities. The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. It’s a chance to start the year off right by making an impact in your community. (Note – you can read more here.)

Conclusion

As a church, we already do a lot – and I commend you all. Let me share just some of the ways we already serve our community:

  • First and foremost, our worship services are open to everyone – red, yellow, white, black, brown, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, those who are housed, those who are houseless, those who are dressed up and those who are dressed down, believers and non-believers alike.
  • Our monthly drum circle provides an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate this wonderful life God has given us, regardless of our particular faith traditions.
  • Our monthly LGBTQ Coffee Social and Game night provides an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ community to gather and socialize in a safe, welcoming, and supportive atmosphere.
  • Our movie night provides the opportunity to bring the community together, to break down barriers, and to examine topical issues from a God-centered perspective.
  • Our Military Family Readiness Group provides support to the families of our military who are, or who will be, deployed.
  • By opening our doors as a warming center, we have provided warmth, shelter, and food to over 125 people in just the past four weeks.
  • And finally, through our Community Give-back Program we will be sending out over $2,500.00; providing assistance and services to paralyzed veterans, food for the hungry and needy, education of our youth, funding children’s cancer research, and providing assistance to Christian ministers worldwide in times of trouble or disaster.

As we gather for fellowship after our service, I’d like us to talk about even more ways in which we can be of service to others, individually and collectively, tomorrow and in the days, weeks, and months to come. Will it always be easy? No. It wasn’t for Dr. King, either. But, if we walk close to Jesus, as Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

I truly believe it is when we answer Rev. Dr. King’s question that we live our lives as examples of Christ’s love shining through us, and we, too, will be Agents For Change.

Scripture

  • John 13:34
  • Matthew 7:12
  • 1 John 2:9
  • Romans 10:12
  • Romans 2:11
  • Philippians 4:13

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!