Since the release of my book, I am being asked more and more to define the abiding life, which presses me into formulating for myself a definition that I can condense down, and which is more succinct. God uses fewer words to get His point across than I do, and so I go back to relying on Him for His definition.
One of His definitions is found in Romans 4. Beth Moore, in her “Believing God” study, asks the reader to read this passage over and over throughout the study until it has become fully ingrained in our thinking. I started doing that and realized how many times I have read Romans 4 without reading (i.e. chewing, savoring, digesting) Romans 4. This morning I read it in the New Living Translation and was moved deeply as the “living” word began to stir life within me.
I will be spending some time here, camping out for awhile as my gleanings begin to root deeply. As someone who was raised in a Christian home but was anything but righteous, in fact, who seemed to have been born with a deep desire to color outside every line and break every rule, the fact that Christ accounts righteousness to me no matter what my past has been is nothing short of a supernatural life-changing revelation.
The fact is Jesus lived a life that modeled the abiding life. He inscribed the abiding life into every text of Scripture. He repeatedly said
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19 NIV).
Simply put, Jesus did nothing from Himself. I say “simply put” but it is not as simple as it sounds. Jesus laid aside His glory. The model for us is that the process is to “lay aside our glory.” It is called dying to self. Dying to our own kingdoms, our reputation, our self-life, our rights to ourselves, as we invite Jesus to live exactly His life through us. This requires faith that most of will soon realize, we don’t really have. We believe in God, but we don’t believe God. We don’t believe He can do everything through us—we can’t resist the urge to help things along somehow.
The way to the deeper life is, as Philippians 3:10 reminds us, through “the fellowship of His sufferings.”
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
I don’t think the “suffering” part is necessarily suffering poverty, hunger, and so forth, although for some that is true. I think the suffering part is laying aside our rights to ourselves. Our rights to the little “i” AM and allowing the great I AM to control everything—everything!
It is becoming weak so that His strength can be perfected in our weakness. In the devotional reading from Streams in the Desert for this morning, A.B. Simpson gives the real translation of the oft recited passage in 2 Corinthians 12:10 which is:
“Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am dynamite.”
That is dynamite.