The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Abide in me

'Abide in me as I abide in you ... because apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:4-5)

There is a longing in everyone. We call it by many names and try to satisfy it in countless ways. But in the end there is only one ultimate good that can meet our needs and fill our emptiness. Augustine wrote of this realization at the beginning of his Confessions: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

Even Jesus shared this need for the one he called "Father." He talked of this when he was tempted to hunger for physical satisfaction, temporal power and "proving" God. His reply to the tempt er was clear: "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). To his disciples he said, "I have food to eat that you do not know about" (John 4:32).

When we are hungry we need something we do not possess. We reach out for something more. The miracle is that all hungers can draw us to God. Or they can lead us away.

The good and beau tiful reveal the holy. And they can distract from it. The ugly and warped can destroy us. Or they can force us to find our strength in God.

What makes the difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone? Could it be our connectedn ess to God and to each other as people of God?

Is that what Jesus was talking about on that last evening with his friends? "Abide in me," he said. "I am leaving, but stay close to me and to each other."

On that evening before his death, his last request was not that his friends do something for him. Rather, Jesus asked that he be allowed to do something for them. He asked them to receive his gift before they tried to pass them on. He asked them to receive — to eat and to drink his gift, his life — as the hungry and thirsty do.

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