Dwells in the abiding love of God and extends this love to the family.
“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 15:4 For many in the church, these are familiar words. Yet, in their familiarity, we may well miss their deeper meaning. What does it mean to abide, let alone to abide in Christ? I currently serve a congregation in a region known for its wineries. We have grapevines on our church property and I even discovered vines under overgrowth in my backyard. Naturally, this ever-present reminder of the care and cultivation of a vineyard keeps this biblical metaphor fresh in my mind
When we talk about abiding, we are not talking about passing through or merely stopping by. As branches, we are not able to bear the fruit that God has prepared us to produce unless we abide in Christ our vine. If you examine the way in which a vine is cared for and encouraged to abide in the vine, you will not the support provided to maintain a deep connection between vine and branch, which allows the vine to fuel the growth of the branches and in turn produce fruit. A branch pruned from the vine and left on the ground will not continue producing. Rather it will wither and die.
If we transfer this concept from the nurturing of our faith in Christ generally to the specific context of the Christian family, we get a further picture of the nature of this abiding. While it is true that as parents we have a limited time frame in which to mold and shape our children when they are young, that does not negate the ongoing lifetime of nurture that we are called by God to provide. In love, we provide the support for our children to abide in Christ and remain abiding in Christ into adulthood.
When I think about how members of my own family are able to abide in Christ with one another, I think of the times that we have sat together on the couch in a family snuggle. All four of us arm in arm, wrapping each other in love and affection. I also think of the times when I have sat in one of my sons’ rooms while they are dealing with something emotionally and just sat with them. Abiding as a parent with your child means offering a presence that may involve not a single word spoken, but rather a calm stillness that fills their heart leaving them at peace to remain. Stilling our hearts to be open and abide along with our children provides that peace in which their hearts, minds, and spirit are able to be renewed and their emotions understood.