Concordia’s school year theme for 2018-2019 is Abide ... with Christ at the Center. What does it mean to abide? We’ll be exploring that idea all throughout the year, beginning with Christ’s words in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
First of all, and this of utmost importance, Christians abide in the word. To abide means to remain continually, to persevere or to hold fast to something. In this case, Christians hold fast to Christ’s word. A literal translation of “my word” in John 8 would be “the word proceeding from me.” So it will not do to abide in just any word. As disciples of Christ, we abide in the word which proceeds from Christ.
Next, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” This “truly” should not be seen as a qualitative measurement or a degree of discipleship. Through His word, Jesus makes us disciples. We don’t make ourselves disciples, by our own determination or by our own standards of truth. Jesus simply states that discipleship is dependent upon the word of Christ and abiding in that word. If someone claims to be a disciple of Christ but does not abide by the word of Christ, are they in reality a disciple of Christ or are they a disciple of something else?
What does all this mean for students, faculty, and staff at Concordia Lutheran High School (and for all Christians, really)? Christ is at the center of our community. Each of us longs to be a disciple of Christ. We want to do the right thing and live the right way. We want to be loving and compassionate. How do we do that? We abide in the truth of Christ’s word. Easier said than done, right?
Abiding in the truth is difficult for all of us to do because the word of God is under attack in our culture. This has always been the case since the beginning of time: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). Often times, (perhaps unknowingly) we compromise the truth of God’s word in order to conform to the falsities of the world. These things may sound good, compassionate, and loving but they are not always true.
We cannot abide with Christ without abiding also in His word. There is a deep connection between Christ and the word. Remember that Jesus is called the Word of God in John 1. His word is truth and only the truth of His word will set you free. Any word (teaching or doctrine) outside of His word cannot necessarily be trusted. It must be held up against the Word of Christ. When people exchange the truth of God for a lie there are major ramifications for our culture (see Romans 1:18-32).
As Christians, the most loving thing that we can do is proclaim the truth, no matter what the culture would pressure us to believe. We are not called to popularity but to truth. Because the truth matters.
Why does it matter? For the sake of salvation. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” and “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25). As disciples of Christ living in a world that has become increasingly hostile toward Him, we are thankful that it is the Holy Spirit who leads us and guides us and speaks His Word of truth through us.
We, by faith and in faithfulness to Him, proclaim that truth to all. Because it is through Christ and through his sacrifice upon the cross that the passions and desires of our sinfulness are crucified and put to death. It is through Him that we have truly been set free from the dominion of sin! It’s through Him alone that we have life and salvation forevermore.
Director of Integrated Campus Ministry