“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31b NKJV)
To abide is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “to continue for a long time: ENDURING.”
Jesus continually leads us to the Bible to teach us what he means. Other translations illuminate the definition of the word “abide:”
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, 'You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.'” (John 8:31 NLT)
STEPS OF ABIDING
So, as Christ’s disciples, we are led to progressively mature in our walk. I suggest that this is a progressive process that includes the following steps:
• Consistent study of God’s Word - The Bible
• Faithful adherence to Christ’s teachings found in the Bible.
• Enduring, continuing, and lasting implementation of Christ’s teachings.
Consistency is key. Faithfulness requires daily surrender. Daily surrender requires times throughout the day for specific, intentional study of God’s Word, dialogue with Christ, and meditation on Scriptures. These are the three essential ingredients of an effective quiet time:
• Reading/studying the Bible with a focus on doing what it tells us to do.
• Communicating with Christ in open, honest, transparent dialogue.
• Reflecting and meditating on Scriptures and memorizing especially meaningful passages.
DANGERS OF NOT ABIDING
Speaking for many, we simply can’t imagine starting our day without a solid hour devoted to the above. For many years, I spent far less time, and the results manifested in an inconsistent walk with Christ. True disciples of Christ need to consistently abide. Otherwise, several things may happen:
• The many distractions of this world cause us to forget our mission here on earth: The Great Commission, and we once again start living for ourselves and our own selfish, self-centered desires. We may be Christ-followers, but we would not be described as Christ’s disciples.
• Our flesh can dominate our Spirit, and we waver in our devotion and surrender. This leads to a gradual slipping away from intimacy with Christ and a greater embracing of worldly values. We may be going through all the motions of being a Christ-follower, and seen as even a Pastor, Ministry Leader, or Christian non-profit organizational leader. But on the inside, where only Christ has true insight, we are living our own lives, and serving ourselves more than Christ.
• Seemingly little sins start creeping in, like objectifying women. Gradually, these little sins become greater, like watching pornography. This often progresses to marital unfaithfulness, and all the many consequences of that failure.
There is an epidemic of moral failure within the ranks of Christian Pastors and Ministry Leaders. Failure does not start at the moment of lusting. It is way before that, with a slip in the consistency of abiding. It is easy to get so caught up in “doing” discipleship that we forget about “being” a disciple. It is easy to over-index on sermon delivery on Sundays and forget about the “love delivery” to our families. Discipleship starts at home, in our daily times of abiding with Christ, and our daily interaction with those closest to us.
We are called to role model behavior for those we lead. If all we do is get a head full of Jesus’ teachings and don’t implement them in our daily lives, consistently, throughout our entire time on earth, then we are failing in the “abiding” process in which Christ is urging us to engage. We are the proverbial “clanging cymbal.”
Let us all walk the walk and consistently abide in Christ. Amen.
Your aspiring servant, Daniel M.
January 11, 2024
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ."