Assuming that Jesus’ invitation to “abide in Me” contains an RSVP, how does one accept it and actually “abide in” Him?
First, simply tell Jesus you accept His invitation. Do this daily, either verbally or written as in a prayer journal. Never take it for granted. Accepting His invitation daily is the greatest honor and privilege imaginable. Never lose sense of its awesomeness. Invited to abide in your Creator, Redeemer? Really? Yes! Whatever it might mean; whatever it might involve—yes! Similarly, daily invite Him to come in and eat with you and with all those on your prayer list, as per Revelation 3:20.
The familiar steps to maintaining that relationship include three daily actions and a commitment:
Prayer. “The life you have received from Me can be preserved only by continual communion” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 676). Well then, “continual communion” it must be. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me . . . ask what you desire” (John 15:7, NKJV). What we desire is for ourselves, of course, for our own growth in His image and likeness and for our personal needs. But also at our baptism, Jesus grants us intercessory authority. Our prayers can make a difference in the lives of others whom God lays on our hearts. Praying for them is one way we can bear fruit for eternity without even leaving home!
Scripture. Jesus associated “abide in Me” with “My words abide in you” (John 15:7). There is some direct correlation. Isaiah said that as surely as the rain produces vegetation and food, His word will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it (Isa. 55:10, 11). He sent His word to secure you to Him spiritually and that your life might bear fruit for His kingdom. Therefore, if you sincerely and prayerfully meditate on His word daily, you cannot be lost and you will bear fruit, because these were purposes for which He sent His Word!
Quiet time. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Alternate translation: “Turn it off! and know that I am God.” Media, that is, in all its forms! Do not turn it on each day before you overtly accept Jesus’ invitation and spend some quiet time in prayer and meditation on His Word. If you commute to work or school before that occurs, mute the radio or podcasts unless they are devotionally nurturing; spend quiet time with Jesus instead. Occasionally fasting from all media for a set period of time to “Be still, and know that I am God” could be a more effective spiritual discipline than fasting from food.
Commitment to an obedient life of covenant faithfulness. “If you do whatever I command” you will “abide in My love” (John 15:14, 9, NKJV). We all fail here in terms of perfect obedience. But remember, we do not obey in order to abide in Jesus; we abide in Jesus in order to obey! Do not confuse the sequence. “Without Me you can do nothing,” Jesus said, including true obedience from the heart. While most modern scholars have fled from Jesus’ high standard (Matt. 5:48; Luke 6:36), C. S. Lewis has rightly maintained, “After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. . . . The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection” (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1960], 93, 94). By “perfection” in Matthew 5:48 Jesus may have meant: “Don’t set a limit on what I can do in you and through you!” The final goal is the Matthew 7:12 life, the John 15:12 life, the new-covenant-experience life in its ultimate maturity—and it is not yours to achieve, but His as you abide in Him and trust Him (1 John 5:14, 15).