By Brock Bondurant
John 15:4-5 – 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
I am so passionate about practicing the way of Jesus. This doesn’t mean I’m an expert or anything, but I talk about it a lot! Which, if you’ve been keeping up lately on these devotions, you’ve noticed. But you may have also noticed that I’ve yet to really give you anything to practice. If you’re like me, you’re probably frustrated. “Give me something to do bro!” I’ve got you, I’ve got you! Here you go (kinda)!
To practice the way of Jesus or to adopt his lifestyle, we have three main goals: 1) Be with Jesus 2) Become like Jesus & 3) Live how Jesus did.
With this as our framework, let’s dive into what it looks like to first be with Jesus.
If there’s one way that we can begin to be transformed into something it is by being in proximity to whatever that thing is. Although we’re not chameleons, the old adage of “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” generally rings pretty true. When you spend time around someone or something you begin to adopt their practices. You may begin to walk like them and talk like them and not even notice the change. If your future really is based on who you spend time around, I want to spend my time near Jesus.
Following Jesus is kind of like going to the gym. After all, we are to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12). If you want to be physically fit, the gym is a place, an environment, that is specifically suited to help develop one’s physical fitness. Presence in the gym isn’t what makes you fit, but to do the exercises that only a gym offers, you first have to step into the gym. In other words, before you become like Jesus and live (more and more) as he did, you’re first move is to step into his presence. You’ve got to be with him.
With him is exactly where Jesus wants us to be when he calls his disciples in John 15 to “Abide”. In my own journey into practicing the way of Jesus, this was for some reason a new concept to me. It was like, “Wait, you’re saying that instead of performing I simply need to start by being?” I’m a loved son of God before I even lift a finger! Revolutionary to a performance-based approval addict! I guess I am a human being, not a human doing. I can simply be with him rather than perform for him. I work from a place of being loved rather than working in order to be loved. Jesus first desires that we be with him.
Reading through the Psalms, it’s no stretch to assume that David’s greatest longing and desire was to be with Jesus.
One thing I have asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life … – Psalm 27:4
David and others continue this theme all throughout the Psalms, using phrases like “dwell” and “be still” to describe this concept Jesus calls us to when he says, Abide in me. But I love that this is David’s “One thing”.
So before we get started doing anything, we first need to abide – to be with him. As he says, apart from me you can do nothing. We cannot “bear fruit” if we do not first abide in Christ. Over the next couple of devotions we’ll discuss a few of the practices that have helped me in abiding in Jesus; things like silence & solitude, prayer, and Sabbath.
We want to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what he would do if he were us. As we take up this lifestyle may our greatest longing and desire be like David’s: that the one thing we ask and the one thing we seek is to be in the presence of a loving God. Amen.