Monday, January 31, 2011

A Place to Abide - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 212
A Place to Abide”
By Rev. Greg Smith
(c) 2011

And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), where abideth thou?(John 1:38 ASV)

When I was young, our family took in foster children.  Though we were assured their stay would be brief, these three girls remained with us for years.  Each one was a blessing, and each had special emotional needs.
One of the girls, whom we’ll call Margaret, was born in Glasgow, the child of a Scottish woman and an American sailor.  Her mother was unable to care for her, so in her first eight years Margaret moved to her aunt’s house in Spain, and then back to Scotland to live with her grandmother.  From there, she moved to Colorado to live with another aunt.  When that aunt couldn’t keep her, she sent Margaret to another yet aunt in Virginia.  When she couldn’t take care of her, Margaret entered the foster care system.  By the time she came to us, Margaret had been shuffled from place to place so much that she didn’t know where she belonged.  She didn’t just need a place where she could stay for awhile, but a place where she could abide.
When they first met Him, Jesus’ disciples asked, “Where abidest thou?”  “Come and see,” he replied, and they stayed with him overnight.  Some make the mistake of thinking that just because Jesus was itinerant, he must have been homeless.  Many Bible scholars believe (based on this verse and Mark 2:1, 15) that Jesus actually owned a home in Capernaum.  He invited them to his own home for the night, and they ended up staying with Jesus for three years.  In fact, when His Spirit dwelt in their hearts, He remained with them forever, promising them a heavenly home. 
A place to abide…that means much more than just a place to stay.  The root Greek word for “abide” in John 1:38 is meno, which means “to remain, continue, endure, last, and live.”  Its meaning is more permanent than “Where are you staying?”  his makes us think of a hotel, but instead Jesus’ followers wanted to know where they could remain with Jesus forever. 
Jesus uses a form of meno ten times in John 15:1-10 (NASB).  “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”  You abide in Him when you remain in a state of prayer and fellowship with His Spirit.  You bear fruit in your life when you abide in Him the way a grape vine abides in the branch.  You draw nutrients from Jesus just as the grape draws its sustenance from the sap that flows through the branch.  When Jesus calls you to become His disciple, He doesn’t say, “Why don’t you visit for awhile?”  Instead, he says, “Remain with me.  Abide with me.”  When you abide in Him, you know that wherever you go in life, you’re at home in His love.

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