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
A few years ago, I fell in love with this word “abide”. (And no, it had nothing to do with The Big Lebowski.) It’s just such a rich description of our position in Christ. For a frenetic people who are in love with activity, the simple command to abide seems, at least in part, a refreshing call to Sabbath rest. It’s trust that my activity does not determine my identity. Rather, I am formed by my proximity to Messiah. He is our vine, we are His branches.
It also reminds me of the work He has for me. Sometimes abiding sounds quite passive, and I suppose we need the receptive posture that only comes through passivity. But we also know that abiding is hard work sometimes. To plant your feet firmly in the sand and attempt to “abide” during high tide requires significant energy and effort. And so “abiding” also has a very active quality. So too does the life of faith. Often times my “non-abiding” is the product of my own choice. With willful resolve, we choose to sever ourselves from Him, to cut ourselves off from the source of life and wholeness. Or conversely, I continue to willfully choose His grace that allows “abiding” to occur in the first place. Grace is not opposed to effort, Dallas Willard says. Nor is it opposed to choice. His grace doesn’t negate my choice; it only empowers that choice to have ultimate validity. His grace sustains my choice to abide in Him. Because it’s what He has chosen as well.