Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5
We should talk about the word “abide,” for it is key to understanding what the above verses from John’s Gospel are saying. Whenever we speak of “abiding,” we speak of dwelling. One abides in their home, for instance. Now I know that being a human entails work. One is to do labor to maintain their house or apartment. But there is so much more than just working: one also rests and finds refreshment in abiding. John is fully aware of this nature, for you see, in John 1:38-39 “[Two of John’s disciples] said to [Jesus], ‘Rabbi, where are you abiding?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was abiding, and they abided with him that day.” One might say that this first chapter in John’s Gospel points to these first disciples hanging out with Jesus.
Last week I mentioned that living into the vocations God calls us into is holy work, and I continue to stand behind that. But at the same time, stopping to rest and simply be is also an important aspect to the Christian life.
In my professional circle as a pastor, there is much talk about the dangers of burnout. It is true that clergy are at a high risk of burning out, but in these discussions, I also worry about the rest of the people of God. I have seen people who are not ordained burn themselves out in service to the Gospel. Burnout leads to a whole mess of things that can include (but is not limited to) poor decisions, hurt relationships, poor work quality, illness, and many more things.
Let us remember that part of the life of discipleship includes times where we abide with Jesus, and that is it. This is how we live by grace. This is part of what life anew looks like. It also helps that when we spend time relaxing with our Lord, we will find energy, ideas, and productivity that we might have not known of before! But this is besides the point: abiding with Jesus provides peace.
May God continue to be with you!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+