The Foundational Power of Abiding

“That they might be with him” – Mark 3:14

In the beginning, the story goes, God spoke a cosmos into being, calling it out of chaos, drawing it with His words. Lifting a finger was needless with such omnipotence. Ironically, rest undergirded the most energetic endeavour in the universe.

Incarnation made it possible for the divine to experience physical weariness, but Jesus knew how to abide in rest (a loyal, constant, and perseverant residence or frequent resort) as He had been abiding with His Father since the beginning. Out of this consistent residence with Father God, Jesus drew everything He needed in every circumstance.

With empathy at the core of God’s incarnational project, Jesus draws others into close relationship with him and teaches them all they are willing to hear. One of His most central teachings is abiding. Over and over again, Jesus tells the importance of abiding and models it with His lifestyle.

Mark 3:13-19 narrates the calling of Jesus’ twelve apostles, stating that He wanted them, that He called them, and that He appointed them. Their appointment? First, to be with Him. The original commission of the twelve disciples, like the original commission of Israel, like the original commission of humankind, was to be with God.

Second, Jesus gives all His disciples authority – supernatural power. Power to teach, to heal sickness, and to drive out evil spirits; they receive the power to restore. Much like new teachers, they must be eager to get out into the systems of the world and start putting things right. Indeed, the church has been involved in works of justice from its inception. Yet, rather than turning them loose, notice that Jesus immediately brings them back to their first appointment – to be with him, by going with them into a house. Once again, he underscores a foundation of abiding for all outflow of works.

With God dwelling in me, I am powerful. I have authority over entities in the physical and spiritual realms. Make no mistake about it: unseen power is at work. So, the pertinent question is: what kind of power will I exercise? It depends whether I am becoming like God. If I abide in God, I will become like him (John 15). Without staying close to God, I cannot become like him and will consequently inflict damage as His supposed representative.

Thus, my first mission is to abide. The success of every subsequent mission utterly depends on it.

One response

  1. Thank you, Craig, for this good word for the New Year! Your words reminded me of the lives of many saints who spend years in prayer before a brief period of public “giving away” of the abundant life they had received through their willingness to truly abide in Christ. We are often very focused on the “doing” rather than “abiding” and so I appreciate this reminder to be content with abiding.

    I sometimes get worried when I hear words like power and success mixed in with a message about becoming more like Christ. We have to keep in mind that the “power” we receive is the power to become like water, always seeking the lowest way, the way of bearing a cross or even many crosses, the way of becoming free from the passions that enslave us. We receive the power to become sons and daughters of God which means the power to deny ourselves, to empty ourselves, to give ourselves without any agenda or expectation to receive back – because we love, because we know that if we somehow become transformed we can offer something beautiful to the world, something God might use to heal, restore, and transform.

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