‘Probing Deeper’ Meditations: 8. Abiding (1)
Jn 15:7“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
I have to confess that this is the verse that set me off down this path, when we considered it a little over a month ago. Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you!!!! I think when we ask for things, more often than not, we are asking out of desperation over our own circumstances and I am not sure we see lots of answers to prayer (we’ll tackle healing later), and so I find myself pondering am I focusing on the right things and the big question in this verse, do I know what it means to remain in Christ or ‘abide’ in him as older versions said? No smart answers, just setting up the curriculum of the kingdom. We’ll think some more as we go through the month.
But with meditation you can focus on one simple word and immense challenges follow and it is true here of that starting word, ‘if’. The starting place of ‘if’ is the assumption that there are two paths that can be chosen to be followed and we have to choose just one of them. And so I turn our minds to the recognition that is behind this whole series that actually in the modern church (and perhaps before) it is common to ignore this verse and not let our minds go into its depths, and so the truth of our experience is quite likely that we do NOT ‘remain in Christ’, we do NOT ‘abide in him’. Please, this is not seeking to stir up guilt but to simply ask us to be honest about the depth or otherwise of our daily experience.
Remaining or abiding has a sense of resting about it, about having arrived at a place of peace ‘in Christ’ but, as we gaze back over the period of the Pandemic and its subsequent lock-downs and restrictions, that was a testing ground, testing hearts, testing location and identity, if you like, and by the comments that are made, very many of us were found wanting. It was not peace that reigned in us but fear or anxiety.
Even only yesterday I was told about a young man who just collapsed mentally because of the struggles he had been through in life that were dragged to the surface by the pandemic conditions. Now he happened to be a non-Christian, but how many of us believers have been in a place of stress and strain in this past year and a half? Abiding means dwelling in a place of peace and security ‘in Christ’, aware of his ever-present care. I find myself praying for the ‘p’s that we need: his presence, his peace, his provision, his protection and his power. All of these things come as we ‘abide’ in him, rest in him, are aware of his presence there with us, aware of his stated intentions towards us, aware of him drawing us into his plans and purposes. This awareness comes as we learn to rest in him, remain in him.