This is going to be the final of my “preacherman” posts. Firstly, because it was done 🙂 And secondly, because I thought this was an intriguing question. So, here we go . . .
Not too long ago, our Pastor asked this deceptively easy question during a sermon; “What does the word abide mean to you?”—As Christ implores of his disciples in John 15: “Abide in me”. In fact, John makes abundant use of the word “abide”, using it ten times in John 15:1-11 (NASB) alone.
For example, look at John 15:7:
εαν μεινητε εν εμοι και τα ρηματα μου εν υμιν μεινη ο εαν θελητε αιτησεσθε και γενησεται υμιν
Okay, just kidding. Here it is in the NASB translation for those few of you unfamiliar with the original Greek:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John uses the same word “μεινη” or “meno” (men’-o: to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) — abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own.) throughout chapter 15. As you can see, even within this one word, there are subtle differences that could be gleaned from each particular usage. In other words, Christ isn’t continually saying to “remain”, or to “continue”, or to “tarry”, but is using the subtle shading of each of these and more, throughout his Words.
Abide isn’t a one-definition-fits-all word here. So, if a Christian is called to “abide in Christ”, what exactly does that mean?
Well . . . kind of depends on the Christian doesn’t it?
Would it be fair, prudent, or even relatively smart to ask a new believer to “stand”, to “remain”? No, their walk with Christ would involve more of a need to “continue”, or “tarry”. ~ Continue in Christ.
And if one is having trouble discerning God’s word, or is going through a particularly troubling time, would it be right to ask them to “continue”? Not at all. These are the brothers and sisters that need to “stand”, to “endure”, to “dwell”. ~ Dwell and Endure in Christ.
Yet again, what of a mature Christian? One who is comfortable in their walk, and is ready and capable to disciple others? Theirs isn’t necessarily a need to “continue” nor “endure”, though there are times of necessity for both of those. No, their walk would be more represented by a need to “stand”, to “be present”, and to truly “abide”: As an example and teacher to others. ~ To Be Present and Stand in Christ.
Oh, and as a final note and totally off-topic; no, I don’t believe John 15:7 is anything near an example of the “name it, claim it” prosperity gospel that some believers espouse. It’s all about definition and context my friends. Especially when verse seven is paired back up with verse eight; “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Those are the conditions that Jesus puts on the “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” thing. That: 1) The Father is glorified; 2) That you bear much fruit (i.e. the fruit of The Spirit . . . joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.); and, 3) So proving to be His disciples. Where exactly does asking God for that new Lexus, the big house, the fat bank account, fit into all that?
Anyway, “abide” is one of those words in the Bible that kind of grows along with the believer and his walk with Christ. I love when that happens: The definition enriches itself, like a slowly unfurling flower that grows more beautiful and radiant, and more complete, with each opening petal. And I can abide in that.