In John 15:4 Jesus shares an important command with His followers, “Abide in me and I in you.” That word abide can be a tricky one to articulate. We may have a general concept of what it means but can’t accurately express it in words.
The biblical definition of abide comes from the Greek word menō. It means “to remain” or “to stay.” To remain or to stay gives us a clear understanding of what it means to abide. We are to depend on and stay put under God’s love, guidance and authority in our lives.
Sometimes we can trick ourselves into thinking we’re abiding because we serve in our church, spend time with Christian friends or lead a Bible study. And while all of those activities are good, they don’t necessarily mean we’re abiding with Christ.
Let me explain this idea further with this analogy: I can be at someone’s house without being in someone’s house. For example, when I pull up in someone’s driveway and call them to tell them I’m there, I would say, “I’m at your house.” But I’m not in the house. To be in the house means I have entered on a personal level – I have come into someone’s home. I’m going to know them better by stepping foot into their home because I will start to see how they live. I’ll understand what’s important to them by seeing what they own, what’s posted on their walls or how their furniture is oriented. It’s the same way with Christ. I can be at His house on a Sunday morning or leading a small group without being in Him (knowing His heart, His word, His truth, etc.).
When we are abiding with Christ, there’s an ongoing, deep relationship.
Abiding with Jesus – remaining in and depending on Him – is much more personal. When we are abiding with Christ there’s an ongoing, deep relationship where we listen to Him, are attentive to Him and desire to do what God wants us to do.
This is what it looks like to abide, friend. It takes work to remind yourself to stay put under Jesus’ guiding hand, but when you are in continued fellowship with the Lord fully depending on Him, it’s a taste so sweet that you’ll wonder why you ever wander away from the heart of God.