the first & last step of a disciple...abide

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself," Jn 15:4

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself," Jn 15:4

"Abide in me...", this is one the most profound commands of Jesus. Think about it, how much more simple can it be; just sit, listen, live...just BE. This simple instruction probably took place in the upper room, the setting of the "Last Supper". Jesus has spent the last three years with the listeners of the simple command. Teaching, modeling and correcting these few disciples, daily and probably near 24/7 with a few. I believe the whole of what Jesus was teaching from the discourse recorded in John 14-16 was a summary of His teaching, it was clear and simple.

The promise is if we abide, live or remain in Him, He abides in us! This is the true essence of becoming a disciple, or the true follower of Jesus. It's the key that opens the door to thinking, walking and acting like the person of Jesus. In Philippians 2:5, we are called to think like Jesus, in 1Jn 2:6 we are called to walk or live like Jesus and in John 13 Jesus tells his disciples to act as He has done towards one another. For most of my life I believed this was impossible, after all Jesus was God on earth. Well I was half right, i guess you might say! In fact, Jesus tells us if we fail to abide we will "die on the vine". He goes on to say, apart from Him we can do nothing. 

"What is abiding; it seems to be clear. But what does it mean for us to abide in Jesus as branches in the vine?  I believe three things are implied: connection, dependence, and continuance. Don’t think of these as three successive steps, but as three interwoven aspects of abiding." ~ Brian G. Hedges, lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church . Connecting, depending and remaining are all foundational elements of a healthy relationship. Jesus ask us into a relationship with God almighty. The result of this relationship with God is His eternal Holy Spirit dwells in us, this is the power that enables us to think, walk and act like Jesus. 

So why don't we abide? Is it fear, pride, doubt, selfishness, probably yes to all. In order to abide we must as Paul says, "die to ourselves" or as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, "be born again". Our self-defense mechanism kicks in when our identity or life seems threaten, I believe this is why Paul chose the example of "die to self", we have to put not just some, or even most, but all of our dependence in Him. No longer do we seek to live to please ourselves or seek to gain what we see is good for us, but we only live for Him. We have to ignore "common sense", I must do this or that in order to be a good person...or what others may say. No longer do we climb the ladder of success, run for recognition or even save for the "rainy day". 

We stop demanding our freedom, justice and entitlements. We give up our identity of our former life...whether good or bad! The good news is if we give up our rights, we gain real freedom. We are like the "monkey and the cookie jar", we hang on with all of our might to what we think we deserve, in-turn we are captive to our desires. We are all slaves to something, no matter how free we think we are, we are either slaves to this life on earth or slaves to Him who created and came to save us. We by nature and training seek to cling to the things of this life, mainly because they are tangible. By faith we need to shift to cling to the promises of Him who can save us, provide for us and give us peace...for now and eternity.

We have become human-doers, we need to become human-beings or as these verses in John teach us "Jesus-beings", the new person who abides in Him! Go ahead, let go of the "cookies" of this life and reach for Him, he will supply all you need, in fact you will have in abundance. As we see in these verse he will multiply or produce much fruit that will remain. It's not what we do, it is Him!

ciao, ciao and arrivedercci!