CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: Abide in Jesus
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
- John 15:1-8
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel text that when we abide in him, when we stay connected to him as immediately and as organically as a branch is connected to the vine, then we bear much fruit.
Abiding in Jesus. We’re familiar with the heartfelt petition, embedded in that most stirring hymn, “Abide With Me” by Henry Francis Lyte. We want Jesus to be with us; we pray that he remains with us through thick and thin, in life and in death. But what does Jesus mean when he invites us to abide in him?
The collect for this fifth Sunday of Easter points us in the direction of abiding in Jesus. This may be the boldest collect yet for Eastertide. “Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus, the Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps.” Wow. The collect does not ask that we may believe certain things about Jesus but that we may so perfectly know him as to be able to follow him.
One of my fondest games to play with children is Follow the Leader. Everybody works very hard to do exactly what the leader does. No matter how silly the walk, how contorted the movements, each follower intently watches every gesture and motion the leader makes and then reproduces that motion, often to hilarious effect and endless laughter. We may lose our balance, we may get it wrong and we may even fall! But we will do everything we can to follow the leader.
Abiding in Jesus is knowing him well enough to do as he does. Abiding is about right acting, not right thinking.
And what does Jesus do? He walks in the way of love. More precisely, by everything he did—in his living, his dying, his rising to life again and his ascension to the right hand of God—Jesus demonstrated and, indeed, he showed us he is love embodied, he is truth enfleshed and in his way we find life itself.
Jesus showed us what compassion is about: being with us and suffering with us, being broken by the hurts that break us and taking actions that show us life is stronger than death, truth outlasts violence and lies, and love will have the last word, as love had the first word when God said, “Let there be light.”
Compassion is the gate to perfect knowledge of Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Compassion is not a sequel to knowing Jesus; it is the entryway. Orthodoxy always follows Orthopraxis. Right believing follows from right doing. Ours is a hands-on faith, not a set of statements tucked away in a dusty book.
Begin by loving our neighbor, and you and I will come to the perfect knowledge of the Christ.
Begin by doing that which upholds the dignity and worth of the person in front of you.
Don’t wait for injustice to happen to you before you care about justice.
Compassion is concrete, not abstract. Not a mere feeling, compassion is action.
Direct and immediate, not postponed to a better time or more appropriate moment. No time like the present.
Compassion is embodied behavior, not pure thought. It cannot be explained, but it can be shown. It is not the product of persuasion. It simply is, irreducible and unflinching.
Knowing by doing. Embodied knowledge. This is following Jesus. This is abiding in Jesus.
Rolling up our sleeves and engaging in acts of compassion: This is also, as Wendell Berry would say, to practice resurrection.
So, the question for you and me today is: Will we listen to Jesus’ invitation? Will we abide in Jesus?
The Rev. Daniel Robayo is the missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries in the Diocese of North Carolina.
Tags: Caminando with Jesus