Sometimes, when someone comes up and says, “let me ask you a question,” I will jokingly respond “42” before they even have a chance to ask it. According to Douglas Adams in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “42” is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. It isn’t of course, it is simply a number which Adams admittedly plucked out of thin air. But what if I told you there is an answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything else? An answer found in a command.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” How in the world is that the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? Jesus, knowing that we would have a hard time understanding this gave us a simile. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4, NASB95) In the same way that a branch is fruitless and dead unless attached to the vine or tree trunk so is our life if we are not connected to Jesus and He with us.
Jesus goes on to say, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5–6, NASB95) That’s the meaning of life – to bear fruit.
Jesus doesn’t describe the fruit. The Apostle Paul identified the Fruit of the Spirit as love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Want to grow more of these kinds of fruit? Abide in Jesus and He in you.
While that may solve the riddle of the meaning of life what about the universe and everything else? Jesus wasn’t finished. He goes on to say, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:7–8, NASB95) There is a stark math going on here. This math shows us that if our prayers aren’t being answered perhaps we aren’t abiding in Jesus and He in us. But before we see that as a path to personal wealth we must take a step back.
If we are honest for a moment nearly all of us would admit that we accepted Jesus to solve a problem or crisis in our lives. That crisis could have been based on our guilt or need. We wanted Jesus to make our lives better and to have them make sense. And that is perfectly fine! But as we grow in Christ our focus must change from what we can get from God to what we can give to God. From getting to glorifying. Our prayers then become focused on what the Father wants instead of our own desires.
Let’s be clear. Jesus is not making a suggestion. He’s stating a command and showing us how it all works. Want the fruit of love, joy, peace… in your life? Abide in Him and He in you. Want your prayers answered? Abide in Him and He and His word in you. Want to grow in Christ? Abide in Him and He in you. We can’t do any of these on our own. Abiding in Jesus and He in you is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
At this point, we need to stand on the brakes since there is one huge unasked question. How do we abide in Jesus and He in us? I know how to plug in a lamp, how do I plug into Jesus? The first step is to ask Him into your life. He will only abide with you if you ask. And He will only abide in you to the degree that you allow. If you keep a door locked He won’t break it down.
We abide in Him by talking to Him morning, evening, and every moment in-between. By listening to Him in our hearts and through His word. By reading the Bible. By hanging around with others that also abiding in Jesus. We don’t just abide in Jesus for an hour on Sunday or a few minutes in the morning but every moment of every day. We aren’t rechargeable batteries that only need to be connected when we run dry. We are like branches that need a constant flow from the vine.
Jesus says abide in Me!