Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Discipleship: The result of abiding in Christ
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Jesus is paving the way for his followers to understand what it truly means to be a disciple. The important factor in this Scripture is the concept of "abiding." We are called upon to abide in Christ. This unity with Christ results in our participation or fellowship with the Holy Trinity -- our very own abiding in koinonia with God. God is glorified in this relationship for it is in this abiding relationship that we become a clearer reflection of him. The natural result of abiding in him is that we are disciples, who bear much fruit. We don't bear fruit to become a disciple -- there is no separation of the two. A disciple is one who abides in Christ and as a result bears fruit -- because Jesus bears fruit!
We could probably sit and park on the word "abide" for about a month! Too often we jump right past it and get into what we assume is our business -- that of bearing fruit. Or even going out to make "Christlike disciples in the nations." But without the word "abide" as it relates to discipleship we miss the whole point and we turn it into a type of "works" for the kingdom. The work is done by God, himself -- not by us. Our job is to abide in him. That means, first and foremost we have to learn how to slow down, turn off the noise, and sit in his holy presence. Synonyms of the word "abide" include, to stay, to endure, to reside, to dwell, or to remain. Think about that. There is nothing about rushing through a few devotional thoughts and and saying "Grace" at the table that equates to "abiding." To truly become a disciple of Jesus Christ we are going to have to spend time with him, and for most of us, it's going to take discipline to commit ourselves to a practice of dwelling in his holy presence through prayer.
What happens when we abide in him through prayer? We draw closer to the original image of God, Christ. In doing so we become a clearer reflection of who he is, for we are students who reflect the Master from whom we are learning. Jesus, the incarnate image of God, came to this earth to draw his children unto him. In this way he bore fruit -- reclaiming those who were called to be the holy people of God. When we abide in Christ, when we are transformed into his likeness, then not only do we look like him, we act like him, and we participate in his work. Through us God's children are reclaimed and reunited with Christ. This is bearing fruit, and if you are truly a disciple, bearing fruit is not an option, it is a result.
Can you imagine an entire mass of people being reflections of Christ in this world? The reclamation of God's people means that God himself is glorified. Our actions are to be in service to the King so that he will be lifted up. I have to confess that I am bothered somewhat by what I see in some of Christianity these days. It seems that there are a lot of people out there enjoying the accolades of growing large ministries. There is an issue of "branding" and the names of individuals are flashed everywhere. Somehow we have mixed Christianity and business and have created a model that sells an individual -- instead of God. He is to increase, and I am to decrease. That is the plan. The world is supposed to see Jesus, not me. It's time for God to get the glory, not us! And that's what it truly means to be his disciple.
Lord, please, help me spend that abiding time with you. Amen.