Winsome evangelism, robust theology, cool v-necks, homebrewed beer, and organic church doesn’t equal abiding in Jesus. Neither does a rigorous “sanctified” schedule of quiet times and conferences.
Abiding is different.
And family is the perfect paradigm to understand it.
Family is part status
I belong to the Mogck family simply because I have been deemed a Mogck by the Mogcks. I didn’t have anything to do with this. Nor can I escape it within any rational means. I am in the Mogck family.
“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:3)
Family is also partly functional
I am a Mogck because I have tendencies which I share with other Mogcks. I also had little to do with this; although, more so than the name thing. Somewhere along the line, I observed my family’s behaviors and began internalizing and exhibiting some of them. In other words, the Mogck family is in me.
“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:5,8)
Families aren’t uniform
Any parent will tell you (so I’ve heard) that discipline, affection, and quality time has to take different forms for each kid. It’s not that there is a qualitatively better form for some kids and not others — it’s just different. And it takes wisdom as a parent to know your child, so as to better connect and give your child a sense of abiding.
So it is in the family of God
This, I believe, is where we need to reclaim some ground and reorient our thinking around abiding. By acknowledging that what has historically “worked” to stir your affections for Jesus, spur you on in the gospel, and connect you to the family of God — may not be what “works” for everyone.
For far too long, Christian ministries have operated under the notion that if you can get someone to spend one hour a day praying and reading a Bible, you have made a disciple.
You may learn a lot about God during those times – even get excited – but turn around and take a dive right into your porn stash a few hours later. That’s how we end up with compartmentalized, fragmented lives. And that’s not really abiding.
It’s just not as simple as an hour of quiet time every day.
Me? I love reading. I can sit for a couple of hours with an old, thick theology book, my Bible, and a notebook and come out refreshed and more sensitive to the Spirit in my life.
My wife, on the other hand, cannot.
Sitting quietly with a Bible open for an hour only goes so far for her. She has had to, instead, learn how to abide.
So she has given herself permission (not easy!) to connect with Jesus in a different way – maybe without a Bible open. Instead, she waters the garden, does some cooking, and listens to music. Things she delights in.
Is it entirely passive? Absolutely not. It takes discipline to take delight in the gifts the Father gives. It takes discipline to cultivate a sense of gratefulness to Jesus in the ordinary. It takes discipline to do tasks with a mind immersed in the Spirit.
It takes discipline, but it is a lot sweeter than the discipline it takes to read an arduous book because you think you have to.