What does it look like to live as a Christian? Get practical. What does the week of a Christian look like? What do you do from day-to-day?
Years ago, that question was easily answered, though the answer could smack of a form of legalism or moralism. We all knew that good Christians went to church on Sunday morning and again on Sunday evening. They also would attend Wednesday night prayer services, and perhaps would meet with believers again in the week for fellowship, visitation, Bible study, or something else.
Today, many of our churches have thrown off that template of defining solid Christianity by attendance every time the church doors are open. And we must understand that there is a good to calling people to focus on their family lives and to freeing them from arbitrary, man-made standards of holiness. But, what have we lost in the process? What have we let go of when we threw out the old church schedule?
I wonder, if we are honest, if we have not let go of too much when we let go of the old-style schedule. Is it possible that, in freeing people from an arbitrary schedule, we have also, unfortunately, allowed ourselves to spend too much time in our given weeks apart from the people of God?
All of this hit my brain as I read through John 15, and as I repeatedly came across the word, “abide.”
John 15:4-6 – 4 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. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Now, first-things-first, to abide in Christ is to live in faith and repentance as a child of God in Jesus Christ. This passage is about unity with the Savior and living life in him before the face of God. Yet, with that said, what else must be a part of abiding in Christ?
What I think we must consider is that God calls us to abide in Christ, to center our lives in Christ. We are to live each day focused on Jesus in much the same way that we live in our houses. The idea of living in my house but never actually being in it is silly. Similarly, the idea of abiding in Christ while only worshipping him or talking about him once per week is silly. If I am to live as a Christian, I must center more and more of my focus on the person of Jesus Christ. I have to make him my home from day-to-day, not merely as the point of salvation, but also as the step-by-step growth of sanctification.
Here is what I think we have lost. In doing away with the old church schedule, a schedule I’m not trying to reestablish, we did away with regularly meeting together throughout the week for the purpose of worship, prayer, study, accountability, and fellowship. And what Jesus wants us to know is that we cannot survive like that. Once per week is not enough to abide in him. We need to abide, to live in him. That includes daily time in the word and prayer. But it also must include regularly getting together with other believers to grow together. We cannot make it on our own. We cannot live this life in our own strength. We need each other to assist one another in abiding in Christ. And we need to make that community Christian living a high priority.
So, maybe you do not need a twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday schedule. But you do need more than once per week to live the Christian life with other believers. You need people to ask you hard questions. You need people to get into your life. You need people to tell you that an idea you are having is a good one, or a bad one. You need people to remind you to focus on living daily before the face of God. We must work and live together as we abide in Christ for the glory of God.