By James Metsger
And now, little children, abide in him… (1 John 2:28)
Abide in Christ. Abiding is one of those spiritual ideas that we talk about in church, but we don’t always know what it means practically. What does it mean to abide in Christ?
This isn’t the first time John writes about this idea. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said:
“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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. . .As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:4-5, 9-11)
John uses a metaphor of a vine and branches. Abiding in Christ is staying connected to the life-giving vine—Jesus.
What does that mean? Think of it this way: In the Christian life we experience union with Christ and communion with Christ. They are not the same thing. One flows out of the other. In faith, we are united with Christ much like a husband and wife are united in marriage. But union doesn’t always guarantee connection. If someone asked you, “How is your marriage?” you wouldn’t respond, “We’re legally married.” If someone asked you, “How’s your relationship with your husband?” you wouldn’t say, “He claimed me on his taxes last year.” Ideally, you want union and communion working in harmony.
Abiding is a relationship word meaning to dwell, or stay, or remain in the same place.
In the same way, we can be united to Christ, but not experience communion with Christ. Abiding is a relationship word meaning to dwell, or stay, or remain in the same place. We are to remain in relationship with Christ. It is going to Christ to receive what He continually gives. Abiding in Christ isn’t about changing your status with Christ but living in communion with Christ. Abiding isn’t producing something you don’t have as much as it is enjoying someone you do have. Abiding is the act of receiving all that God is for us in Christ. It is believing and trusting in Christ.
Reflect: What would it look like for you to abide in Christ today?