What Does it Mean to “Remain” in Jesus?

What Does it Mean to “Remain” in Jesus? January 18, 2016

Read Pastor Goodman's response on Deily.
Read Pastor Goodman’s response on Deily – Photo courtesy of iStock/itsmejust

Question

In John 15:5-6, it says “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” How does one “remain in him”?

Answer by Deily member, Pastor Tom Goodman

Reflecting on Jesus’ call for his followers to “remain” in him in John 15, a reader asked how one successfully does that.

It is no small concept in John 15. The word “remain,” or “abide,” shows up 11 times in the first 11 verses. A grape branch exists and accomplishes its purpose only as it stays attached to the vine. Likewise, Jesus insisted that remaining in him would result in the fulfilling life we truly want.

If we understand what that looks like we’ll better understand how to accomplish it. To abide in Jesus is to be satisfied in Jesus. Many hope to find self-worth and personal security in our careers or our possessions or our families or in the good things people will say of us at our funeral. For many, even religious involvement is in hopes that we can get and keep the things we really want. It’s an implicit deal with God: We’ll do what God expects of us and in return he’ll do what we expect of him.

Jesus did not intend to be a means to an end. As worthy as it is to have, say, a family or a good job or financial security, none of that is a sufficient basis for our self-worth and happiness. Jesus called us to find our value and purpose in him. Jesus said we are grape branches that must continually draw life-giving nourishment from himself, the “true vine,” or we will wither and die.

If this is the best way to understand what “abiding” means, how is it accomplished? The earliest Christians remained in Jesus as they “continued steadfastly” in 4 practical things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). It’s still a good agenda. First, regularly reflect on the apostles’ teaching, which of course is collected in what we call the New Testament. Second, fellowship with other believers for encouragement and accountability. Third, engage in corporate worship. (The phrase, “the breaking of bread,” is likely a reference to the Lord’s Supper, a central element of corporate worship.) Fourth, pray in all its forms: praise and lament and confession and gratitude and petition.

To learn more about Christianity or to read more of Goodman’s insight, visit Deily. 


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