By Roland W. Keith
For the longest time I equated the idea of abiding in Christ as simply synonymous with the idea of following Him. Which leaves open a broad interpretation of what constitutes being a true follower (in some people's minds). Exactly how close do you have to follow for Jesus to recognize you as one of His own? However, when we examine the definition of the word ‘abide’ we find that it is a word well chosen to describe our relationship to the Lord.
To abide is to wait for. Have you ever seen a dog waiting for his master? The anticipation and joy he feels is visible. Even so he waits patiently and continues in place trusting in his return. We await the Lord’s return, not knowing when He will come, yet faithfully trusting in His promise to do so. But that is only a part of what it means to abide. One who abides in Christ does so by conforming to His word, accepting His commands without objection, and enduring the world’s opposition without yielding or compromising the truth.
Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The words of Paul, and the example he left us take us well beyond the description I have given from the dictionary, doesn’t it? The apostle sought to not only live as one conforming to a rule given by another, but to live as one whose life was wholly given up for the other, even replaced by the other as if they were one and the same.
For Paul every Christian is a new creation reconciled to God in a way that goes beyond our fleshly existence (II Corinthians 5:16-18). Jesus became the first born from the dead when He rose from the grave; subsequently each true follower has followed suit, spiritually rising from the grave through the blood of Christ to be reconciled to the Father, to be made a subject in the kingdom of His Son, and to be made one with Him as members of His spiritual body (Colossians 1:13-20; I Corinthians 12-13; 10:16-17; Ephesians 1:22-23; Romans 12:4-5). If we have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27), then we have become one with Father and Son in some inexpressible way (John 17:20-21).
The closest we can get to describing what God has done for us Paul has done by relating it to family: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:16-17). If we then have been grafted into His body and share the same spiritual DNA with the Son of God, by the grace and mercy of His Father (Ephesians 2:8), how can we but help to resemble Him? How can we help but to walk as He walks (Colossians 2:6-7)?
To abide in Christ as an adopted son or daughter of His Father, and fellow heirs of the Father’s promises we fall under the authority of the LORD God. Accordingly, as written in Deuteronomy, “what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)?
If we have truly become one with the Lord, we will walk in His light in harmony with one another, and in a manner worthy of His calling (I John 1:7; Ephesians 4:1-3). Not only that but we will do so boldly and with a great zeal to do His works (Romans 1:16-17; 12:11). As Solomon wrote, having tested life for its meaning, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We have but one duty while we are here on this earth— to live according to the will of God. If we will but do this we can find the only true fulfillment in life.
To live life well we have to go beyond sitting in the pews on Sunday merely listening to the word— we must be doers who are dedicated to the work God has put before us (James 1:22-27; Titus 2:11-14). What the world calls folly we embrace as the wisdom of God to our salvation (I Corinthians 1:19-30; 2:5-7, 13; 3:19), and seek to share that wisdom with all who are willing to hear.
In the end we cannot fear the world or what it might do to us. To abide in the Lord is to trust in the reward He has promised us, no matter what we sacrifice in this life (Revelation 2:10; Titus 1:1-3), knowing that we have been set free from spiritual death in Him (Romans 8:1-4). Moreover, in seeking to do His will we will continuously strive to overcome the world (Galatians 5:16-21), while developing the attributes of Christ in our lives ( II Peter 1:5-11; Galatians 5:22-25), remembering the words of Paul in Romans 8:35-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.