“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.” (John 15:5, ESV)
Remain! Abide! Linger!
God desires us to experience abundance. John 15 tells us that happens when we abide in Jesus. But we don’t do much abiding today. We quickly move on to the next thing. The latest and greatest today is gone tomorrow. The sounds bites of today are quickly forgotten. Our knowledge of God is often left to a few quotes on Facebook.
To borrow from another image Jesus gives us in the Scripture, he talks about the seed that farmer scatters (See Matthew 13:3–8). Some of that seeds fall on soil which is shallow. The seeds spring up, but because there is no depth to the root, they are soon scorched. The seeds that fall on the good soil have their roots grow deep. They produce a harvest up to a hundredfold.
The breadth of our knowledge and experience is often wide. But what we often lack is depth – like the seeds with the shallow roots. Sound bites and cliches will not get us through the crisis when it comes. What gets us through the crisis is a deep and intimate relationship with the Savior.
Consider the different types of relationships we have:
- Strangers: These are people we don’t know.
- People we have knowledge of: These are people we recognize but are not people we know. They may be a celebrity or a CEO at your company. You may know who they are, but you don’t have a relationship with this person.
- Acquaintances: These are people you know in passing. You may know their name. You may not know their name. You may only know their face. But you have at least related to this person in some way.
- Associates: Associates are people with whom you might regularly have conversations. You may work together on a project. You may start to learn the details of the person’s life.
- Friends: You might share a lunch together or go golfing. You enjoy time together, and the friendship brings you fulfillment.
- Confidants: This is someone you might call in the middle of the night for help. You know they will always be there. There is a commitment to each other.
- Sharing Life Together: This is a covenant relationship such as marriage where you are so intimately tied to the other person that you are no longer your own. You go together.
As you considered that list you probably realized that the relationships gained more depth and became more intimate. The question I want to you to ask yourself: where would your relationship with Jesus be on that list? Is he someone you know in passing? Or is he someone with whom you share life together?
Abiding is about staying with a person. It is about living intimately with another person. It is learning what makes them tick. It is sharing the good and the bad. It is trusting them fully and completely.
There is discipline involved with intimate relationships. We can easily brush off acquaintances and even friends. But that is not as easily done with confidants and especially those with whom we live in covenant relationship. The deeper the relationship the greater priority that relationship will have in our lives.
This brings us to spiritual disciplines. These are tools that God gives us to help us go deeper. They help us nurture the relationship we have with Jesus. So what are some spiritual disciplines? How do we use them to go deeper? More tomorrow!
Questions for Reflection
- How do you define an abiding relationship?
- How would you define your relationship with Jesus in the above list?
- What does it mean to have depth in your life of faith? What prevents our relationship with Jesus from going deeper?
- Share your comments.