Vine Life: Abiding

For church bred folks like me, the fruit of the Spirit are nine attributes we are taught at an early age.  I could recite all nine in order with ease after learning a catchy song about them in VBS.   However, the personal challenge lurking behind those attributes (which I hadn’t quite internalized in first grade) isn’t in memorizing, but in doing – putting those fruit to the test on a day to day basis.

Coeur d’Alene Bible Church started a new series called “Vine Life: Attitudes and Attributes of Spirit Filled Living.”  Pastor Kurt is  taking an in depth look at Galations 5:22-23 and started off with an introduction of sorts to the vine life concept.  One of his comments in this primer has really taken up residence in my heart.

The spiritual life is the abiding life.

I’m a word nerd, so immediately went to the dictionary when we got home from service to unpack the meaning of abide.  The basic definition of abide (thank you, dictionary.com) is to stay, remain, continue, endure, or wait.  The abiding life continues to be present, maintaining unbroken fellowship with Christ.  He dwells in us and we remain steadfastly in Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  {John 15:4}

Abide is a pretty fancy verb – one that can be both transitive and intransitive.  (My degree is in English and I still had to look up the difference…)  A transitive verb applies its action to one or more objects.  An intransitive verb expresses an activity that can be done but does not attach its action to a specific object.

Maybe the differentiation is only significant to me, but I love that there are two distinct ways to abide.  One takes action and the other takes consistency.

Abiding is remaining fixed in Christ, leaning in to His life giving spirit.

Abiding is continuing on the journey, accepting His provision and presence along the way.

Abiding is enduring the bumps in the road, withstanding the pressures and detours  with His help.

Abiding is bearing the burden of an unpaved path with patience, pushing forward with joy.

The Christian walk is certainly primitive – full of potholes, loose gravel, and narrow shoulders.  It isn’t enough to simply be spiritual.  Primitive roads take commitment.  Most of the time, there aren’t many off-ramps or exits to take along the way.  You have to get back on the same road,  traversing the terrain with only trust to keep you moving forward.

We can only do that by abiding in Him, receiving life giving love and sustenance from the One who travels with us.  There is shelter and comfort in being connected, rooted deeply in Christ.

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  {1 John 2:6}

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