Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How To Abide in Christ

I believe we can consistently abide in Christ. But it will only happen as we purpose to make it happen.

When I am successfully abiding in Him, it is because:

I am choosing to trust Him, doing everything I know to please Him.

After years of studying the New Testament, I am convinced that what God wants me to do is trust Jesus completely. As I choose to trust Him with every aspect of my being, I am compelled to walk as He walked--seeking to do the will of the Father. In a trusting relationship, I am responsible for what I understand. I do not have any fear that He will hold me accountable for things I don't realize are wrong. But if I'm seeking His will and willing to do whatever it is as soon as I see it, I experience a continual peace with God. I believe this is what the scripture refers to when it admonishes us to abide in Him.

I have certainly experienced the frustration of feeling distanced from God at times in my life. But as I have continued to dig to understand myself, and then studied the message of Jesus to understand how it all works, I’ve found there are things that help me stay in close fellowship with Him:

1. Talking to Him every morning first thing, as well as throughout the day and before I go to bed
(Curt and I pray every morning together before we start the day, and we pray again with our daughter before we go to bed. These are short prayers, but they mean so much to all of us.)

2. Listening to music throughout the day that keeps my mind aware of Him

3. Reading something every day that serves as spiritual food for thought
(Besides the reading I do on my own each day, after breakfast, Curt and I listen to a short section of an audio book or read a short Bible passage together with our daughter before he leaves for work. It's incredibly grounding.)

4. Writing my thoughts and prayers; sharing some of them with others via blogging or other means

5. Having family and numerous friends who are living just like I am, sharing this goal

6. Attending Bible studies with those friends and family members twice on Sunday and once mid-week

#4, 5 and 6 all share the concepts of openness and accountability to others. I have found this is critical to my being able to walk the talk. (And it's only when I'm absolutely walking the talk that I am abiding in Him and experiencing the peace it produces.) I am absolutely convinced we need the body of Christ--other committed believers--if we hope to be all He wants us to be. There is a certain level of accountability to fellow believers which is helpful, and being even more accountable to my believing family members is crucial to my success. They know me best and watch me every day. I need that accountability. We help each other in this way.

The scripture admonishes us to abide in Christ. I must purposely choose the things that fill the moments of my day in order to do this. If I just do what the culture around me does--the normal, the accepted "not bad" stuff--I end up somewhere out there on my own. Given my particular tendencies, I have to limit the things that increase my desire to endlessly shop or to entertain myself a million different ways. I have realized that these are all things my flesh tries to use to fill the emptiness which only abiding in Christ can address. That doesn't mean I never buy anything or that I never enjoy an entertaining movie or book, or go to a concert or drama, but it greatly diminishes the amount of time I spend on these things. And when I do, I carefully choose only those which have some eternal value which will help me achieve my non-negotiable goal of staying close to my Maker.

Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
~Rom 13:12-14

...let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Heb 12:1-2

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
~I John 2:28

It's a wonderful way to live!