“I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser…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.” [John 15:1-5] Abiding in Christ appears eleven times in this passage and it also appears throughout the Bible [cf. 1 John 2:6]. If a word appears like this as often as it does, it is probably important.
The phrase abiding in Christ [μείνατε ἐν ἐμοί; John 15:4] is an aorist active imperative. In other words, “You are to keep on remaining/abiding in Me.” Abiding is not something you get, it is something you are. If you are in Christ, stay there. Don’t go anywhere else. I am an American: by birth, citizenship and passport. As a follower of Christ we are already have a passport to the kingdom, adopted as citizens of heaven. Having this divine imperative brings a lot of freedom for living in the here and now. I abide in Christ because I know I will be with Him one day, but I can also strive to be like Him today.
What is the difference between being and doing? How do I be? Some followers of Christ get so worked up over performance and playing the part that they forget that Jesus has already performed the work. Children are taught from a young age, even by godly parents or teachers at the church kids program, that if you do this you will be a good Christian. If you memorize these verses, complete this Bible study or workbook page, if you follow all the commandments and pray you will be a complete bonifide follower of Christ. Now each of these disciplines are valuable in themselves: hiding Gods Word in your heart that you might not sin against Him [Psalm 119:9-11], saturate yourself with God’s Word [Psalm 63:1; 2 Timothy 3:16-17], and keep the commands of Christ [John 15:10-17], but doing is not as important as being.
Doing simply leaves you and others exhausted and unmotivated. Each of the verses above and the disciplines within them have a common artery: to have my heart parched for the greatness of our God and utter dependent upon Him for daily nourishment. It is not do this and you will be this, rather it is be like Christ and you will live [do things] like Christ. Being in Christ is what I am because I am grafted into the Vine. I am to be a branch that is abiding in the life-giving, fruit bearing doing of Christ. Christ’s doing [sacrificial death] comes before my being [saving faith], and my being [saving faith] comes before doing [sacrificial living].
So how do I love people who are hard to love? I be like Christ. Sure, I am commanded to love [John 15:12], but just because I am commanded to do it does not mean I am motivated to do it. When I consider the Gospel and how Christ became love [John 15:13], it gives a new perspective on how I can become love to others [John 15:17].