In John 15, Jesus uses a metaphor about grapes and vines as an illustration of the type of relationship a Jesus-follower should have with Him. But in several English translations, the word "abide" appears in His teaching, like in verse 4...
"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)
This is such a beautiful concept! However, I don't think most of us truly grasp it, primarily because we don't use the word "abide" in English very often. What does it mean to "abide" in Christ?
The Greek word μείνατε (meinate) gets translated by the ESV, NASB, KJV, and other English versions as "abide". But the NET Bible chose to translate it as "remain." The reason they chose "remain" is because the Greek dictionary they use defines μείνατε as "to remain or abide, especially in reference to place."
In other words, within the word "abide" contains the idea of residing, remaining in one place, of not departing. It has connotations of being lovingly kept or held, as in an embrace. It even has overtones of patience and perseverance, with a sense of rest.
Just as grapes don't get some nourishment in one place, then jump to a different fence or different soil type or different vine to get different or better nourishment, if you are "in Christ," you aren't to jump to a different religion, or different faith, or even a different "god" to find fulfillment. Your full joy (as Jesus states in verse 11 of John 15) will be found in only Him.
Yet, we do this all the time! You may not be dipping into Confucianism for a bit of spiritual refreshment, yet so many of us try to "remain" through entertainment, or sugar, or alcohol, or exercise, or acquiring material possessions. These things can be good, but when they replace Jesus in our hearts and become the vine to which we hold, we aren't "abiding" in Christ.
This is why the Apostle Paul instructs Jesus-followers to be "rooted and built up" in the Gospel (Colossians 2:7). For a tree to be rooted, the tree must remain in place, digging its roots deeper into the soil. Likewise, for you to "abide" in Christ, to be "rooted and built up" in the Gospel, you must remain with Him through all things. And this will probably mean going back to Him over and over and over, to (as the cliché says) keep the main thing the main thing.
But how do you "remain" in Christ?
I am far from the perfect example of this, but I invite you to join me in pursuing Jesus through the Gospel and learning what it means to abide in Him.
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