How to Abide in Christ

How to Abide in Christ May 6, 2024

Creating Images of Separation and Connection

One of my first classes at George Fox Evangelical Seminary was called “Knowing Self Knowing God”.  We discussed the idea that while we respond to the reality of our situation, we also respond to our understanding of reality.  I don’t just interact with you as you are, I also interact with the image of you I have created in my mind.  This image gathers data from you, and includes my own history, assumptions, and expectations.

We also create images of God.  When we approach the reality of God, we are also responding to the image of God in our mind.  We always bring our understanding of reality with us, mediated by our senses and our experiences.  We can’t navigate this life without it.

One aspect of the image of God that I had created was an assumption of separation.  I believed that God was inherently disconnected from me, and even now I am still tempted to pray as if God is “out there” somewhere.

In John 15, Jesus paints a very different image.  It’s an image that assumes connection.  In this story, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

grapes in a vineyard
Canva image

Branches don’t need to go looking for the vine; there is assumed connection.  The vine is their source, and they are part of it.  Like the vine, Jesus is constant, connected, and present to us.

Maintaining Connection in the Face of the Storm

We are so easily overwhelmed by our lives, like when Peter steps out of the boat in Matthew 14.  He walks on water, and is immediately overwhelmed by the sight of a storm.  He seemed to forget that Jesus was still right there with him.

Life can make us feel like a leaf blown on the wind.  Like Peter, we can forget that we are branches on the vine of Jesus, and that he is the one who doesn’t move.  Jesus is the one who is right here: constant, connected, and present to us.

When you are overwhelmed by the storms of life, what helps you to abide in Jesus?

  1. Prayer is a way of turning to Jesus and abiding in him.
  2. Reading the Gospels and hearing Jesus’s own words can be a way of abiding in him.
  3. Following his commandment to love as he loved us is a way of abiding in him.
  4. Even getting away from people and going out in nature, as Jesus himself modeled, can be a way of abiding in him.

Remember that we are branches on the vine of Christ, and that he is the one who is constant, holding us.  He is abiding in us already.  Take a quiet moment to turn toward Jesus, assuming connection.

This act of abiding in Jesus is something we can do every day.  It’s something we can do in the middle of an argument, or while we’re watching the news, or while driving our car.

Mapping out the Separation and Connection in our Journey

When we do this, we are not just remembering who Jesus is.  We are remembering who we are, by remembering that Christ abides in us.  Part of this is turning inward toward Christ who abides in you, and the other part is turning outward toward Christ who abides in your neighbor.

Christ abides in us, and his love abides in us, it’s already there within you.  We don’t need to create it, we don’t need to force it, we’re invited to remember who we are and what great power lives within.  We are the branches on the vine of the Kingdom of God.

Scripture tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, and Christ tells us that the world will know we are Christians if we love one another.

Because love is the fruit of those who abide in Christ.

Love is the fruit of the Kingdom of God.

When we are overwhelmed by the storms of life, our attention turns toward survival, self-defense, and self-preservation.  This is a natural reaction.  But when we abide in Christ, He invites us to turn our attention toward love.  This is a spiritual response.  .

This can be an exercise of looking back as a non-judgmental compassionate witness to our own story.  Acknowledge which seasons of your life were overwhelmed by storms, assumed separation from God, or just trying to survive.  Name the seasons of life when there was assumed connection, and somehow you knew that Jesus was holding you, regardless of the storms.

Could you map out your journey, and name the times when you felt a leaf blown on the wind?

What helped you to remember that Jesus abides within you, grounding and growing you?

In this current season, is our attention only focused on survival, or are we turning toward Jesus and bearing life-giving fruit for our community and for the Kingdom of God?

Turning Toward Assumed Connection

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” John 15:7-8

What if this week, we trusted in this word from Jesus and asked for God’s help to abide in him?  To turn away from survival mode, and trust that his love working within us will accomplish more than we could possibly imagine?

For while we were yet sinners, Jesus took the form of a slave, gathering our sin and brokenness onto himself.  In dying and rising again, he raised us up to freedom.  We are set free, to not just survive but to have abundant life, grounded and rooted in him who is the source of our being.  We can turn toward him every day until all creation turns toward him and is made new by love.

Lord, help us to turn towards you and abide in you, so that even in the midst of the storms of life, Jesus Christ the Good Vine will bear much fruit in usAmen.


To read more posts, visit my column here.  Check out my writing in “Soul Food: Nourishing Essays on Contemplative Living and Leadership”, or listen to me read a portion of my writing for the podcast Read, Pray, Write.

Browse Our Archives