Earlier this week our president sent out an encouraging email to our staff based on our weekly self-evaluations. We decided that this was a message that all Christians could hear. We hope you enjoy it!
One thing that I have been meditating on recently is the idea of “abiding”. I know it has become a buzzword lately in GFM and one of our accountability questions on the staff report even relates to abiding. The question specifically asks “How have you been abiding in the Lord this week?” It seems that most of the answers that we get from that question tend to be pretty shame based along the lines of “I didn’t pray as much as I should”; “I didn’t read the Bible much this week”; “I should have spent more time in worship”. Instead of focusing on how our relationship with the Lord is in general, it seems like we are focusing on “are you doing enough?” Maybe the better question is “are you in love?”
The John 15 passage where we get this abiding verbiage is the famous vine and branches teaching. The cool thing about the vine and branch analogy is that it is something that is always connected. A lot of times we automatically default to “quiet time” or “personal devotions” when we talk about abiding. The funny thing is that no branch has to plug into the vine 30 minutes every morning to get its nourishment or spend time on Sunday morning getting fed from the rest of the plant to make it through the week. The point is that Jesus is the vine and we need to realize that we are connected 24×7; that is abiding. Because of Christ, we get to have access to the Father at all times and can have this relationship of praying without ceasing, having a God-consciousness throughout the day, or what Brother Lawrence calls “practicing the presence of God“.
I’m not discrediting personal time with the Lord or “sacred pathway” stuff to fill our tanks and would encourage everyone to spend quality time enjoying Jesus; He definitely modeled for us pulling away from ministry and not being around the crowds so he could enjoy His time with the Father. I just feel like some of the abiding answers to our evals (including mine) seem to be a little works based…”I didn’t XYZ enough this week”. What if we focused a little more on verse three of that passage where it says “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you“? Maybe we would enjoy our time with the Lord a little more if we were thinking “it is finished” (what He has already done and what we already have access to in Christ) rather than “I’m not finished” (trying to strive, perform, or earn through spiritual disciplines, ministry effort, etc.). The focus of the passage is the vine, not the branch, or the fruit. The latter two are the bi-product of the first!
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Use the comments section below or comment on Facebook.