Joking aside, it has been a while and I have had plenty of things to think over as my days have progressed. The past few weeks I've been really diving down into a passage in John 15:1-16
These verses are filled with one word that constantly stands out, "Abide" and over these past few weeks I've been really mulling over what it means to abide. Both by definition and how it applies in my own life. I feel like it is often surrounded by misconceived notions of effort rather than resting. More on that later.
But first, definition of abide:
Abide - to remain stable or fixed in a state; to continue in a place
All throughout the passage (linked above) Jesus repeats, "abide in me, abide in me, abide in me"; call me crazy but if he repeats it so many times it must be important. Jesus was a man who always spoke purposefully and without the fluff that many of us speak with today. He never minced words, so for him to repeat a phrase really says something about the man as much as the message. His repetition is indicative that he felt that this topic was incredibly important and he wanted to make sure his audience understood.
Abide in me.
Growing up in a world of skyscrapers, computers, cars, and everything city, it is hard for me to understand this discussion Jesus is sharing about vines and branches and fruit. As I've studied these metaphors, I've tried to come up with something comparable but nothing fits quite as well as a vine and branches. So I did a little bit of reading and tried to understand how grafting really works.
Grafting Info: I know, I know Wikipedia isn't exactly the "best" research credible resource, but it works.
Grafting is an incredibly interesting thing, and what's more it is also actually fairly simple. Just looking up at images of grafted plants shows what kind of wide varieties of success can look like and it's quite beautiful. But the thing that interests me the most, is that the plant that the branch is grafted into becomes the sole source of life for that branch, a successful graft will determine whether or not that branch survives at all. It is fully reliant on the plant.
In the same way, Christ is telling his disciples that he is the sole provider of everything. The very essence of life for those that are grafted into him. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is God incarnate and thus one I can put my hopes and fear, everything, into his hands trusting that he will give me what I need when I need it. That has been a hard lesson, but a very freeing experience as well. It is an ongoing process, but every day I see something new, understand a little more what it means to be grafted like a branch onto a vine.
Abide in me.
Which brings me back to the resting vs. effort aspect I mentioned above. From my own experience, I have witnessed many people who carry themselves as Christians wear themselves out trying to do enough, be enough, give enough to warrant their salvation. We tend to have this thought process that while we know Christ died so that we might live, we feel that we must do more (I'm guilty of it too at times). But the truth of the matter is, Abiding is the complete opposite of going and doing. It isn't about effort at all, but about resting.
To continue the grafting example, the branch that has been grafted onto the parent plant must rely solely on that parent plant for all nourishment. But with that nourishment comes the beauty that only the branch can produce. It is unique to all other branches on that plant.
In the same way, when we rest in Christ and let his Spirit nourish ours, we can grow and bear a beauty that is unique to us as individuals but also as a whole. Which, in turn creates a unique beauty that could not be achieved otherwise. Much like the tree here:
Admittedly, as I said before, I'm still trying to grasp this on a daily basis, but I also wanted to share a few thoughts as well.
The Sunday school class I attend has actually been working through a book called Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray & Bo Stevens which has been helpful in my studies of this passage and what lead to studying it in the first place. If you're interested give it a look.
My two cents for now.
Grace and Peace.