What Does It Mean To Remain In Christ?
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|What does it mean to remain in Christ?|
In John 15:1-17 Jesus uses the illustration of a grapevine to explain our relationship with him and how we are to remain in him. He uses the word "remain" ten times in those verses.
Jesus says: "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener...Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."(v1,5 NLT)
In v4 Jesus says this: "Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] … abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine," (AMP)
The Message paraphrases v4 as “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you."
But what does it mean to remain, dwell, live, abide in Christ?
1. Connection and Communication
I am in Jesus and he is in me. This is a wonderful promise of his presence. Just as a branch is connected to the vine, I am connected to Christ. The vine and its root is the source of the plant’s life. The root is unseen but is vital to bringing life to the branches. Jesus is the source of my life, my hope, my strength, my joy etc so it is vital I keep connected to him. I am totally dependent on him for everything. When I’m disconnected I lose that sense of harmony and unity, I lose my hope, joy, peace. A disconnected life is not a flourishing, fruitful life.
Through the branches connection to the vine, they become fruitful and flourish. I am fruitful and flourish when I stay connected to Jesus. I believe the illustration of the grapevine is a picture of intimacy, connection, close fellowship and fruitfulness.
Jesus says, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!" (v7 NLT)
When I stay connected with Jesus I find my conversations with him go deeper, they are at a more intimate level as I share with him my thoughts, feelings, ideas. This happens when I spend time with God, “being” with him, reading his Word and praying. It's a special time which can't be rushed, a time when it's just him and me. When I can learn from him, hear from him and share the things that are on my heart. Communing with him is vital to my well-being. If there's a breakdown in our communication, then there's a breakdown in our relationship. If any breakdown does happen, you can be sure that it's on my part and not God's.
2. Cherished and Chosen
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love." v9-10 (NLT)
Listen to those verses from the Message paraphrase: “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love."
I can make myself at home in his love for me. Would you take a moment to think about what that could mean for you. For me, it means being safe, secure, free to be myself, confident in his love. I receive his comfort. I am complete and accepted. I can enjoy his presence. There's no need to strive to earn or deserve his love. In this place I don't need to do anything or necessarily say anything, there is comfort in the silence.
You and I are loved - cherished and chosen by God. As we remain in his love, we come to experience more and more of his love for us and we come to a better understanding of what it means to be truly loved by him.
3. Grow to become Christ-like
"When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father." (v8 NLT)
"This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples." (MSG)
It’s God’s purpose for me and you to mature and grow more like his Son and the only way this happens is by staying connected to him, by remaining, dwelling, abiding in him, with our lives intertwined with his.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29 (NLT)
What does this fruit look like in my life as I grow and mature?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
The Holy Spirit within me accomplishes this work, it’s not my own efforts that produce this fruit. By remaining in him, and keeping connected to my life source, Jesus, I allow him to do this work in me. Then I and others will see the growth of the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace etc in me. Apart from him, these characteristics will not grow and mature.
Producing fruit is not only about my character, it is also about being fruitful in my service for him. It’s about what I do and why I do it. It relates to my obedience to Christ which flows from my love for him.
"If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love." v10 (AMP)
My service and obedience to God is a result of my times of “being” with God. I will be effective because I have kept connected to the life-giving source. I will be fruitful and God will be glorified. If my service, my obedience, my “doing” comes out of anything other than a close fellowship with God, I will feel drained - drained of energy, joy and love and it will be more like hard work than an expression of my worship of God.
When you and I make Christ our home and allow him into the home of our heart we experience what it really means to be connected, to be able to commune with God, to be cherished and to be chosen. As we experience these things we will thrive and flourish as God intends us to and we will become more like Christ.
To Think About:
From the three points mentioned: Connection and Communication, Cherished and Chosen, and Grow to become Christ-like, which one speaks to you the most? What is it that God wants you to hear from him?
What are the things in your life which help you to keep connected to Jesus? Is there anything which hinders that connection or disconnects you from him?
What does it mean to you to make yourself at home in Jesus' love?
What evidence is there of fruit growing in your life? (Sometimes this is hard to see for yourself, but if you're comfortable with it perhaps you could ask a Christian friend you respect what growth they have seen in you).
If what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon, on Kindle or in paperback. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: