If the 33 times abide/abides is found in the New Testmanet writings (ESV), 29 of them are attributed to John, either in his gospel or in his letters. John could be said to be the abiding disciple, which would thematically correlate to his moniker as the disciple Jesus loved as love and abide go hand in hand. This was a disciple who appeared to have a heightened experience of Christ’s love among the twelve, and for that reason we ought to pay attention to him as he tells us how to live under so great a love. What do we do with God’s love? How do we operate in and under it, and what is our response to it?
In a word: abide.
“Abide” carries a broad range of meaning. When used as an action word without a direct referent (intransitive verb), it means to remain stable or fixed in a state, or to continue in a place.
So at it’s most basic level – our response to God’s love is to be 1: ENTER and 2: STAY. That’s it.
If love is a land, settle it and build a city. If love is a field, tend it for life. If love is a house, make it your ‘forever home’.
If love is your country, burn your passport. If love is your employer, burn your resume. If love is your channel, burn the remote.
If love is a prison, lock the door and throw away the key.
You get the picture.
The call is to abandon any exit strategy from the realm of love.
This may seem obvious. Is anyone really looking for a smaller experience of love? Is anyone really looking forward to diminishing love in their life? Of course we wan’t to remain in the sphere of love.
Ah but restless hearts are fickle, prone to a ‘grass is greener’ mentality when it comes to the oft invisible and inward overtures of God toward us. Not as the wold gives does Christ give – it’s as true of love as it is of peace – and sometimes restless hearts resent him for it. The world gives variety, it gives what our senses desire, and it gives on demand, more now than ever before.
Of course, we know these things don’t satisfy. In fact, they are little more than fleeting illusion, fast fading into the abyss, passing away along with this temporal world. Yet restless hearts are slow to recognize this – and often only as the result of aggrivation, having agitated the restless condition through a failed remedy.
The cure for restlessness is always available, but it is not a fast-action relief remedy. God is ever present for us to remember. The words of Christ are never further away from us than our phone now, and for some even closer – hidden away in the secret corners of the mind, ready to be dusted off and reviewed again, meditated on. The healing power and effect of love rarely, if ever, heals restlessness in rapid fasion, as dreadfully as we might wish it to – rather it has a cumulative affect: each moment, each day, slowly uprooting the weeds of worldly desire and fleshly impulse that consume us like a parasite and nurturing the seed of the divine life inside us. Over time, it will take root, and produce fruit beyond what your restless heart could ever comprehend.
And so we are commanded to abide:
Abide in the Word. Abide in Christ. Abide in Christ’s love. Abide in the light. Abide in the father. Abide in God. Abide in Love.