“Abiding” is one of those Christian terms that has taken on new meaning. We use it generally to mean to wait or stay put.
When we are told to abide in Christ, we get the idea of stopping, sitting and waiting for Him to show up. A whole theology has grown up around this definition, it’s called Keswick Theology.
This theology made the phrase “let go and let God” famous. It also popularized the notion of “Christianity is about being, not doing.” If you want more info on it, I can’t recommend more the lectures by Andy Naselli, which you can download here.
Oh wait, I can recommend them more! Seriously, download them and study them. Brilliant.
John 15 is the big passage on abiding in Christ. We are told to abide in Him. Since we are told to do so, it implies that we may not be.
Is abiding in Christ a mysterious thing? Is it Christian nirvana? A heightened state of Jesus awareness?
Nope. It’s something much more practical. It’s not about yielding, or surrendering, or letting go and letting God. Abiding in Christ is the same thing as “Abide in my love” (John 15:9).
We’re still stuck with abiding. If we don’t know how to abide in Christ how do we know how to abide in His love? He tells us next: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10).
Abiding in Christ is not a passive, mental state that soaks in and waits for Jesus to do something in you. Abiding in Christ means abiding in His Word and then doing it. Abiding is not passive, it is very active, doing what Jesus has said.
Anyone who frames Christianity as a passive state of being is completely missing the point. Christianity is not automatic, it requires effort, zeal, exertion, diligence, agony even.
When we go all out doing what our Savior desires then truly great things happen.