John loves the word abide. He uses it 40 times in his Gospel account: 11 of which occur in chapter 15 alone. Last week, we heard it seven times. This week, it is in there four times, including these powerful words from Jesus, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
The word abide has actually changed its meaning quite considerably over the years. When used in Scripture, it means to live or to dwell, but that is, like the pipe organ music in many of our congregations, an archaic usage. Modern usage of the word abide include
- To accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation). As in, “The New England Patriots will abide by the findings of the Ted Wells Report.”
- To continue without fading or being lost. (of a feeling or a memory) As in, “The sting Tom Brady felt when he read the Wells Report will abide.”
- Informally, it can mean to be unable to tolerate (someone or something). As in, “I cannot abide a cheater like Tom Brady.”
These days, we don’t talk much about abiding in a place because we just aren’t very good at it. With every passing generation, we’re becoming more and more hard-wired toward multi-tasking such that at any given moment, our bodies may be in one place but our hearts and minds are somewhere else entirely.
As Jesus sat in the upper room with his disciples on that final evening, surely his head and heart were already focused on the cross. It must have been really difficult to sit at dinner with Judas, knowing that he would be Jesus’ betrayer. It couldn’t have been easy to comfort his disciples as Jesus himself was full of disquietude. Yet in the midst of all that was happening both within his soul and beyond the walls of that room, Jesus made it clear that one of the qualities of a follower of God is to abide in God’s love. No matter the circumstances, in the midst of whatever storm is raging about you, the promise of God is that we can abide in God’s love. It doesn’t mean the hurt will go away or the storms will cease or that life will be easy, just ask Jesus. Instead, being able to abide in God’s love means that in the midst of it all, God is there, with arms outstretched to offer peace, comfort, and love. That is a love worth abiding in; a love that is everlasting. A love I hope Tom Brady is abiding in today, even as he waits for Roger Godell to crush him.