The following is a guest post by Michaela
At the beginning of the year, Kara explained the meaning of “abiding” and what it mean to abide in Christ. I’ll be honest and admit that when she asked me to write a guest blog on the subject of abiding, I was kind of clueless on what that word really meant. I had a general idea, but I really didn’t know the full extent of the definition. So I googled it (because Google has all the answers to just about everything, right?).
Here’s what I found:
To abide means to “continue without fading or being lost.”
A few synonyms included remain, survive, and persist.
When Jesus told His disciples to “abide in Me” (John 15:4), He was telling them to “continue [in Him] without fading or being lost.” He wanted them to continue following Him with an unfading, undying passion.
The more I thought about the meaning of abiding, another word came to mind.
Now, when I think of endure, I think of a sappy, romantic prince declaring to his maiden, “My love for you will always endure!” I thought that word meant the same as “abide,” but the first definition that popped up on Google was this: “to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.”
Yuck! I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the sound of that! I don’t want it! Suffering is totally not cool!
But suffering is a reality of abiding in Christ. It comes with the package of following Him.
Don’t believe me? Just read John 15:18-20, right after Jesus talks about abiding in Him.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you…If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.”
So, you, like me, might be thinking: Okay, let me get this straight. Jesus goes through this whole speech about abiding in Him, how it will bring us joy and love and something about bearing good fruit and all this good stuff. And then BAM! He’s all like, “Oh, by the way, if you choose to abide in Me, the world’s gonna hate and persecute you. But you really should abide in Me because it’s the best thing for you.”
In a word…yes.
Choosing what’s best isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard.
Abiding in Christ comes at a cost. Sometimes abiding in Christ can cost you friends…your job…your reputation…even your life.
Just look at the stories of Jesus’s disciples and the early Church. All of the apostles, except for John, were martyred for their faith – for abiding in Christ, continuing in Him “without fading or being lost.” The early Christians were hunted down and killed for the same reasons. They lost everything.
If you love Christ and strive to follow and imitate Him, you will suffer for abiding in Him.
Don’t ever think that you will not experience some form of suffering or persecution for the sake of Christ. He plainly told His disciples that it would come in John 15. Paul told Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Paul spoke the truth. I’ve experienced persecution first-hand several times over the years. There are books I won’t read, music I won’t listen to, movies I won’t watch, and conversations I won’t be a part of. There are things I’ve stood up against, not to oppose someone’s preference, but because those things were not God-honoring.
Because of my desire to abide in Christ and follow His ways and standards, I have been called weird, harsh, judgmental, bitter, legalistic, and many other things.
Over that last year and a half, I have worked with and gone to school with homosexuals and (according to the Biblical definition) fornicators, who have ridiculed and persecuted me.
They made fun of me for not laughing at their dirty jokes or participating in their conversations. I was told last year that I have a “pastor’s daughter” vibe. That comment in itself is not a bad thing because that means my words and actions (or the lack of them in certain incidents) have proven my faith and standards. But to those people, that comment was a jab at me personally; it was a way of making fun of my standards and faith.
Last year I lost a few friends within the church because of my abiding in Christ. I stood up against and pointed out some things that were not honorable to God. I was bluntly honest, not out of meanness, but out of love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I didn’t want to see them fall into sin and temptation. For doing that, I was called judgmental, hard-to-talk-to, and some other things.
I felt so torn down and belittled by people I called my best friends that I questioned who I really was for nearly a month. I didn’t know who I was for a while. I was so depressed and cried more times than I care to count. And it still hurts when I think about it.
Was all this pain, suffering, and persecution even worth it? Was abiding in Christ even worth it?
My answer is YES!!!
Take a look at John 15 again. Actually, look at that chapter before that. In John 14, Jesus tells His disciples that He is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). After that He tells them about the promise of the Holy Spirit, who will be with them to guide and help them.
In chapter 15, Jesus tells them the benefits of abiding in Him. He also promises to abide in them as well – to “continue [in and with them] without fading or being lost.” He promises to remain with them continually.
Then He tells them about the persecution and hatred from the world.
So, why did Jesus tell His disciples the good before the bad?
Jesus was preparing His disciples for the suffering and persecution in order that they would be able to endure it.
Remember that word? “To suffer…patiently.”
Jesus never sends His followers into the fire without equipping them with the tools they need to survive (check out Ephesians 6:10-18a). He always takes care of His own, and will not leave them to fend for themselves. That is why He promised to send the Holy Spirit. That is why He promised to abide in them.
Jesus never said that abiding in Him would be easy. He never said suffering and trials would disappear when we abide in Him. He said the world would hate us for it.
But Jesus never said our suffering would be in vain. In fact, He says we will be blessed for enduring suffering and persecution.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for you reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
1 Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
When we suffer for the sake of obeying and following Christ, we are blessed and Christ is glorified.
When we endure suffering, we feel the full extent of abiding in Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. We become one with Him.
Christ endured the persecution of the Jews and Romans for us – for you. Christ endured the suffering of the cross to save us from hell – to save you from hell.
He did all of that for us. He lost friends, His reputation, and His life for us. How much more should we being willing to endure for Him?
Abiding in Christ comes with a price. It’s hard and at times very painful. Is it worth the pain and suffering?
I would gladly go through all the persecution and suffering I have endured over the past year again. Not because it was fun or easy, but Christ did that and even more for me. And He would endure all the pain and suffering of the cross for me time and time again if it meant spending eternity with me.
So I want to abide in Christ, not matter the cost!
I want to endure with Christ! I want to continue in Christ with an unfading, undying passion!
What about you?
I’m a 20 year-old, Texas-born college student who is completely obsessed with weddings and I plan on opening my own special events business (so you know who to contact if you need a wedding planner)!
I love all kinds of music, The Left Behind book series, Cary Grant movies (if you’re my age, you probably don’t know who he is, but even so, your movie life has been gravely deprived of pure awesomeness!), dragons, and tiny puppies! I also love to write in all different genres, although blogging is completely new to me.
Above all, I love serving and following Jesus, and I can’t wait to see all the crazy, amazing things He has for me on my life adventure!