“Abide in me…he who abides in me bears much fruit.” This is the essence of maturity.
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just before His crucifixion. They are not mystical or religious words, but relational.
God is sovereign. He is also a Person we can know and trust. His love for each of us has no measure. He is so trustworthy and loving, we can lean on His understanding rather than our own. Maturing Christians trust His inspired written Word because His Word speaks from His character, and His character speaks only truth.
What does it mean to “abide in Christ?”
“Abide.” This means to remain, to have consistency. Maturing Christian are not “in and out and back again.” They are not moved by outside forces, emotions or opinions of others.
“In.” In a good marriage, two people immerse themselves into the relationship and become “one.” As we immerse ourselves into our relationship with Christ, we learn to become “one” with His thoughts, passions, actions and strength. He already knows us completely and loves us.
“Me.” Trust in Christ alone. Maturing Christians don’t just read good books about Christ, but come to know Christ in the practical issues and challenges of life.
Maturing Christians know that a moral and religious life is not the same as to abide in Christ. Maturing Christians know Christ died and rose again, not for humanity in general but for them. They know He has done for them what no one else can do, and He did it when they were still sinners. That becomes a growing reason to trust Him in everything.
Jesus Christ gives His children the Holy Spirit to teach “all things.” Maturing Christians learn to fully trust only what Jesus Christ gives through His Spirit’s inspiration and His Word.
Maturing Christians become more aware of their imperfections, but they also become more aware of Christ’s perfections. They learn to put aside their lesser understanding for Christ’s greater understanding. Maturing Christians want to listen to God because every time God speaks to them, they receive life, truth and strength they receive from no other source. They learn to seek His word in all issues of life.
Maturing Christians learn that to abide in Christ means to bear much fruit. To bear fruit takes many forms, depending upon our personalities, abilities and circumstances:
- We show the fruit of the Spirit.
- We express gifts of the Spirit.
- We carry God’s priceless treasure in bodies of clay.
- We live in bodies that die, but our mortal lives reflect glimpses of heaven.
- Even non-Christians see the difference, and many will hunger for it.
The greatest ministries come through people who give up on themselves and abide in Christ. They let His life flow through them into whatever calling God places upon them. This applies not only to pastors, evangelists and missionaries, but to all who abide in Christ.
Paul says it all: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Christian maturity is a continually growing relationship with Christ. As we learn to abide in Christ, others will see “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”