This is the final post of the abide series in which each post was framed as an email correspondence to a friend. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you resonated with the message as deeply as if the letters were addressed to you.
To: Friend Seeking More from Faith
From: Doug Nuenke
Subject: Principles of an Abiding Life
My dear friend,
Our conversations have created a wonderfully sacred space to soak in the idea of finding our home in Jesus. It has restored my soul these months, and I hope it has encouraged your heart as well. I want so badly to be marked by an ever abiding, 24/7 connection with Jesus.
Since our conversation has spanned many months, I thought it would be helpful to look back on some of the principles we have covered:
Humanity was created for more than just physical survival. Jesus used the word zoe to describe the life God intended for us—a vitality sourced from a soul steeped in the fullness of Christ (John 10:10). We experience the fullness of Christ by abiding in Him—turning our attention toward Him, using prayer and Scripture to engage with His presence, and remembering that He is with us always.
However; rather than finding our satisfaction in Christ, we tend to reach for poor substitutes and knock-offs. We often compete with others and are sometimes even willing to hurt them to protect our counterfeit forms of satisfaction (1 John 2:15-16).
Another hindrance to an abiding relationship with Christ is a mentality of self-effort— trying to earn God’s approval rather than receiving his grace (Galatians 5:4-6). You and I discussed how difficult it is to surrender our independence so that we may depend on Christ alone.
Our striving tendencies often stem from a misunderstanding of the Gospel. The gospel is much more than a transaction in which we get heaven at Christ’s expense. As wonderful and central as redemption and forgiveness is, the good news of Jesus ultimately offers us a flourishing life in Him (1 John 4:9).
You and I also discussed how our flourishing is preceded by God’s provision. God is always previous! Before asking us to make our home in Him, Jesus came to Earth and promised to live with us and in us. He’s done the heavy lifting, so we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything to be near Him. He is now near and available to us (John 14:16-20).
The enabling force of our transformation, then, is not willpower, but the power of the Holy Spirit. When we yield our lives to Christ, we increasingly become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). His indwelling Spirit overshadows our weakness and sources us with power (Romans 8:9-11).
How is this power displayed? Proof of an abiding relationship with Jesus is evident when joy, love, faith and all the fruit of the Spirit are consistently flowing in and through our lives (Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22-23). Although our relationship with God does not depend on our good works, our good works do depend on our relationship with Christ. We are transformed as we abide in Him.
Abiding in Christ equips us internally so we may reflect Him externally. Christ’s power motivates and strengthens us to bring His kingdom to Earth. The call to abide is an invitation to be sourced with extravagant love from God to pass on to others.
Ultimately, abiding is leaning in to hear Christ’s heartbeat, experiencing the warmth of His presence, and knowing we have found our true home in Him.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me” (John 15:4 MSG).
One thought on “Principles of an Abiding Life”
Great word and thank for your encouraging note on abiding in Christ.
One of the tensions that I, and maybe others, struggle with is found in John 15, where I believe, Jesus seems to indicate that abiding in Him means obeying His commands.
You explain abiding as: turning our attention toward Him, using prayer and Scripture to engage with His presence, remembering that He is always with us; leaning in to hear Christ’s heartbeat, experiencing the warmth of His presence, and knowing that we have found our true home in Him.
I really like that explanation, but I struggle with how Jesus seems to have so narrowly defined abiding in Him in John 15.
One of my thoughts is that Jesus’ explanation in John 15 was not exhaustive. Meaning, obeying Jesus’ commands was not the only way to abide in Him. They include things like what you include in your explanation above.
The other thought that I have is that obeying Jesus’ commands includes the things your mention in your explanation.
I would value and appreciate your insights as I solidly my convictions.