Abiding: the act of dwelling, companioning, remaining. This is language of lingering in time, space, and place. A spirituality of abiding is what we are after. It’s inherently relational.
The first essential invitation from Jesus is abiding in him.
The Father’s Word to Jesus to Us
In John 15:7, Jesus references a second element of abiding: his word abiding in us.
In John 17:14, he further says this: “I have given them your word.
The Son has taken what he has received from the Father and given it to the Apostles.
The Spirit is also involved in this process of instilling the Word:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak…. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:13-15).”
There is an order of word-giving:
Father to Son.
Saint Paul Icon depicts him holding a Gospel book because of his significant contribution to the New Testament Canon.
Incarnate Son to Apostles.
Ascended Son to Spirit to Apostles (and us).
The Apostles wrote down what they saw and heard (1 John 1:1-4) that we may have what
they have, fellowship with the Father and the Son. That is why the church holds to the Apostolic teachings.
The Word Today
Many question the veracity of the Bible in our day. This is nothing new. I will not go into a defense of the Scriptures as there are worthy volumes that address that topic. Trusting the Bible is an act of faith in a God who is large enough, creative enough, kind and generous enough to send his Son, send his Spirit, and use frail, human vessel to write and preserve his word. He is a generous Father. He is able. I trust him, he is my Father. “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true…(Psalm 18:30).”
How might we heed Jesus instruction to have his word abiding in us?
The Anglican Catechism entitled “To Be a Christian” has a fascinating statement on this topic:
Question # 224: How should you use the Holy Scriptures in daily life?
I should “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” that by the sustaining power of God’s Word, I may embrace and hold fast to the hope of everlasting life given to me in Jesus Christ. (Scripture Collect, Book of Common Prayer)
As usual in the Book of Common Prayer, much is packed into a short statement.
First, we note the efficacy of the word – it provides “sustaining power.” The Word impacts us, transforms us, nourishes us, instructs us.
It sustains me in this dark, weary, trial-laced world. I need Word-grace in my life daily, throughout my life.
I’ve yet to meet a mature woman or man who is flourishing in life that has not been sustained for decades by the word of God.
Second, we note the means of Word abiding:
Hear: Sermons, teachings, conversation, soliloquy (speak the gospel to yourself)….
Read: like a letter, leisurely, reflectively….
Mark: Yes, its OK to write in your Bible….
Learn: Study, exegete, dig deep, mine….
: I like this ingestation image. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were given the word to consume and it transformed them from the inside out. As we receive and eat the Word into our very beings, we become carries of the Word. It infuses us. It seasons us.
Not in a hollow, arrogant preachy-way. Rather in a grace-filled, gratitude-saturated way. But this seasoning is a constant need, to be refreshed daily.
Beyond those succinct guidelines the wisdom in this instruction is to leave it to the individual for application. We are all different in personality, learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and we are in different stages of life. (Once I had to seek out peace and quiet from a pile of rambuctious little boys in my home. Now I am seeking to find my reading glasses….) Each of us are in different spaces and places in life.
Here is the point. No word, no abiding. No knowing his Love. No knowing him, no mature season of the soul.
He is not silent. He has spoken.