I’ve spent a great deal of time interacting with John’s first epistle over the past few months leading up to our Everyday: Spiritual Growth Emphasis. Not only is it the baseline for our group curriculum, but I’ve also slowed down and really studied the book in my personal time with God. One of the things that strikes me time and time again is how similar John’s gospel and epistles are, the epistles borrowing ideas, stories and themes from the gospel, only to expound further on them. One of the consistent themes that I’m personally drawn to and find myself constantly pondering is the word “abide.” Abide is used a total of 43 times in the books of John, 1 John, and 2 John and it simply means to remain or continue.
There are volumes that might be written on how we are to abide in Christ, but today I want to call into question what I find to be the most prevalent view and hopefully expand it. When you ask the average person what it means to abide in Christ their answer will likely include the words “read” and “pray.” Quiet or devotional times are often mentioned in reference to our abiding in Christ and I find for far too many people that this is the fullest extent of how they might abide. For those who are more mature, they might pray before important meetings or in the midst of crisis. But I think there’s much more to abiding in Christ for all of us.
John writes in 1 John 4:7-12,
“ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
What if rather than viewing the love we give as actions done “for God” we instead made the minor shift to seeing them as opportunities to join “with God” in the mission He is already on each day.
In my life, this minor shift brings greater depths of surrender, intimacy and the acute awareness that my life really is lived as a branch attached to the great vine. So today, may you seek a new awareness of the God who abides in you as you do the good He has called you to. May we learn more and more to work, serve, cook, clean, and parent with Christ rather than leaving him at the beginning of each day.
For more information regarding the benefits of a “with God” mindset, check out these resources from Skye Jethani.