Abiding in Christ
“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” John 15:4
Major Ian Thomas, a Christian speaker and writer, once said: “Beware unless even as a Christian you fall into Satan’s trap. You may have found and come to know God and the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him sincerely as your Redeemer. Yet, if you do not enter into the mystery of godliness and allow God to be in you, the origin of His own image you will seek to be godly by submitting yourself to external rules and regulations and by conforming to behavior patterns imposed upon you by the particular Christian society that you have chosen and in which you hope to be found acceptable. You will in this way perpetuate the pagan habit of practicing religion in the energy of the flesh. And in the very pursuit of righteousness commit idolatry in honoring Christianity more than Christ.”
God help us not to fall into the trap of honoring Christianity more than we honor Christ! But I believe that’s where many believers today are…and I believe this is something we will always have to guard against. The enemy of the best is not the worst. The enemy of the best is the good.
The wonderful thing about Christlikeness is that it requires dependence on and cooperation with the Christ we are following…that is why Jesus said, “Abide in Me, apart from Me you can do nothing.” It’s all about the relationship. The Gospel isn’t just the imitation of Christ, it’s the incarnation of Christ in you. We are called to more than copying Him…we are called to manifest His presence.
When Paul wrote the words, “Be imitators of Christ,” he understood this truth. That is why he also wrote, ”I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Think about it, the only person that can imitate God is Christ. Incarnating Christ isn’t just doing the tasks that Jesus did, or taking up the causes that He might if He were on earth today…it is a living relationship with Him. The question is not, “What does Christ want me to do,” but, “What does Christ want to do now through me?”
Christ is our goal, so we must rediscover Him, the incomparable Lord who saved us. When we connect with Him, the giver and sustainer of life, we will be empowered to deny ourselves and live beyond ourselves. This is what it means to abide in Him.
Father, I know that I cannot do anything apart from You. Please forgive me for the times that I forget that, and try to live on my own. It is so easy to fall into the trap of following Christianity instead of following You. Lord, I want to know You and love You more. Show me today how to remain in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.