Luke 13:20-21, James 4:8
Have you ever experienced a bad break-up or broken friendship? A death, a long-distance move, or an argument can throw us into a tailspin of inescapable memories and reminders. After relocating, you walk into the closest coffee shop from your new house, in your new city, realizing your friend won’t be there to meet you this morning. You get a sudden craving for the queso at your now ex-boyfriend’s favorite restaurant, and hunger turns to nausea as the pain shoots back into your heart with the realization that you aren’t together anymore. When changes like this occur, it seems like every song that comes on the radio, every street you drive down, and every friend you see brings up a memory from the past with that person that you are missing.
I think the reason why we have such a hard time with changes like these is because, over time, those closest to us become a part of us. We live life with them, create memories, and share insecurities together. We love them and invite them in emotionally, and they begin to shape who we are and who we become. We find ourselves dependent on those that we love, and they define what is familiar and normal to us.
Now, think about the most important relationship you can invest in: the relationship between you and God. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to break up with God? Would it be as hard as losing your best friend? Would it make any difference to you if you lost your Bible? Would you miss not talking to Him in prayer as you go throughout the day and face different situations? Would you want to see your church family? Would it leave you in hopeless despair if you didn’t interact with God for months?
I am afraid that for some Christians, it wouldn’t be emotionally taxing to breakup with God. After all, if there is no emotional investment, then there’s no pain in ignoring the “friend request”, is there?
Like an old photograph in a shoebox sealed with cobwebs in the attic, a superficial relationship with God is at best a distant memory. It is easy to compartmentalize God, to put Him in the Sunday morning box ,and forget about Him the rest of the week. For some, we go as far as putting him in the Christmas box that we unwrap once a year for old-time-sake, and pack him away for another year with the holly and tinsel. Even genuine Christians can fall victim to reading a quick devotional in the morning, proceeding with our day in such a rush that we forget to even say a quick prayer before our heads hit the pillow at night.
But that kind of relationship is not what genuine discipleship is about. Jesus speaks of our relationship as one where we abide in Him.
When you abide in something or someone, you can’t help but be affected by them.
Just like the more you’re with your best friend, the more you talk alike and dress alike. We can’t help but take on our close friends’ characteristics, because the more time you spend together, the more alike you become.
Jesus wants us to abide in Him because the more we are with Him, the more we will look, act, think, and speak like Him. Abiding means that Jesus is present and active in us at work, school, during commutes, and when we hang out with our friends. To abide in Christ is to keep Him with us, constantly. And the beautiful thing is, the more we let God in, the more He will change us and radiate throughout every part of our lives.
But abiding goes beyond just being with Jesus. It goes as far as being in Jesus, and Jesus in us.
Jesus explained it like this in Luke 13, “He also asked, ‘What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.’” (Luke 13:20-21, NLT)
Have you ever tried to separate the yeast from the bread after it is mixed together or cooked? Probably not, because it is impossible. Once the baker adds the yeast into the flour, he cannot get it back out, nor can he keep it from growing and spreading throughout the whole mixture. Beyond that, without the yeast, you really don’t even have bread.
That is what abiding in Christ is like, He comes into your life and changes every aspect of who you are. As Christians, not only does God want us to abide in Him, we are commanded to because Jesus knows abiding in Him is the only way we can obey Him. Moreover, without abiding in Christ, it is impossible to truly be “Christian.” The first disciples didn’t get ridiculed as “little Christs” for a distant association with Jesus. They were called “little Christs” because they looked and acted like Jesus; preaching like he preached, loving like he loved. The were abiding in Jesus when they were called “Christians.”
Although we will never be perfect here on earth, let’s resolve to allow Christ into every single part of our lives. James 4:8a says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you”. Better than a lifelong best friend, we can build our lives around Him and look back and see all our memories and favorite things were shared with Him.
What better life is there to live than one abiding in Jesus?