Jesus’ words and deeds on the night of the Last Supper were focused on helping the disciples grasp a truth as revolutionary as the first use of an incandescent light. “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20).
In a sense, we’re a lightbulb–an airtight glass housing a tungsten filament. When the bulb is connected to a power supply, the electric current zips through the tungsten, releasing light photons.
A lightbulb can’t fulfill its intended purpose without electricity. When the power goes out, the lightbulbs in your fixtures and lamps generate no more light than an empty glass jar. The moment the power returns, the bulb glows.
Similarly, our body is the glass bulb and our spirit the filament. The moment we trust in Jesus, God’s Spirit acts like an electric current touching the filament of our spirit, and suddenly we’re able to fulfill our God-given purpose.
Unlike the unreliable power source on which a light bulb depends, the Holy Spirit indwells us with an inexhaustible and unbreakable supply of energy-the same resource that Jesus drew upon during his life on earth. The question is, how do we follow his example and draw on such wisdom and strength? Jesus answered that question with one word: abide.
After leaving the upper room, and leading his disciples out of Jerusalem, Jesus paused at a vineyard, took a grapevine in his hand, and said:”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:1-11, ESV, emphasis added)
Jesus could have told his followers that the key to victorious living involved performing a religious ritual, abstaining from certain foods or drinks, giving money to the poor, or attending church. Instead, he repeated that single word–abide–ten times, so the disciples, and we, wouldn’t miss the point.
The essence of abiding is staying connected and allowing the natural life of the vine to produce its natural fruit through us. All our striving and struggling and seeking dissolve in that one quiet verb: abide. That’s how we prove to be his disciples. That’s how we become more like him.