Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me – John 15:4 ESV
Call me strange, but I tend to believe that cotton candy grapes are a glorious, bioengineered, rediscovery of a pre-Fall food. A small taste of redemption! That is until you find that one miniature, runt grape on the vine…the one that missed out on the vine’s enrichment and in its shriveled state leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Those mini grapes must go, they find their home in the trash. Now I am not a horticulturist, but undoubtedly these undeveloped grapes did not receive what is needed to grow into mature fruit. And these grapes can be helpful reminders to us of our Lord’s choice words.
In His intimate, last moments in the upper room, Jesus tells His 11 disciples (Judas has already left to betray Him) that relationally abiding in Him will be essential for their spiritual survival and maturation. To protect them from going astray, to guarantee they will bear fruit to the glory of the Father, and to ensure they will not turn into runt grapes, Jesus tells them they must abide in Him as branches to the true Vine. When we read this today, why is it that we so often struggle to abide? Just the recognition that our abiding has taken a backseat is not enough, lest we think we just need to try harder; we need to consider “why” we are not abiding.
“Take a careful assessment of any person’s habits, and soon you can tell, with little margin for error, what really captures his heart” – David Mathis
Abiding is a measuring stick of our heart’s joy and its humility. I once saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said, “lion not sheep.” Where you find a person who abides in Jesus, you find a humble sheep leaning on a good Shepherd. A sheep that recognizes its neediness and knows apart from the Shepherd it can do nothing. But where you find little abiding, you will find a pretend lion, leaning on itself with an independent, “I don’t need a Shepherd” heart posture. Simply put, our abiding (or not) reveals what we believe about ourselves and ultimately what we believe about the person of Jesus. Do our habits reveal we believe Him to be our indispensable Good Shepherd, or rather a fire-extinguisher in a glass case…break only in extreme emergencies?
When you think about your prayer life, your enjoyment of Jesus in the Word, your frequency of running into the arms of your Good Father, your need for Christian community…are these familiar habits where you’re abiding in Jesus as a grape to a Vine? If we are not abiding in Christ, make no mistake, we are abiding in something we believe offers better security and joy. What do your habits reveal you are abiding in? If you feel a desire to know what it means to abide in Christ and see newfound fruit borne in your life, Burke Care would love to walk alongside you in that journey.
In the day of my trouble, I seek the Lord. Psalm 77:2 ESV
Lord Jesus, my world is upside-down, topsy-turvy, and inside-out right now. It’s hard for me to believe that all of *this* is under Your control. But it is—because You are. You are the all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present Author and Finisher of our faith. When my countenance falls, when my perspective shrinks, when my heart is weary, when my mind is restless, please grant me the grace to see You and the faith to believe that You see me.
- Where do you find abiding difficult?
- Have you ever thought about having the option of abiding instead of “fight, flight, or freeze?”
- Do you have a safe place where you can practice abiding?