“I have to stay in a spiritual place, and everything I do has to come from that place. If I manage to maintain that connection—and everything durable, enduring, or important that I do will come from that place—then I’m kind of invulnerable. The only thing that’s going to hurt me is if I leave that place and start doing things that are self-interested and self-serving.”
Robert F Kennedy Jr.
In a recent interview, Robert F Kennedy Jr. was asked how he deals with all the attacks, smears, and slander he encounters on a daily basis. I found his answer to be inspiring. In this post, I’m neither commenting for or against his political opinions nor speculating on his spiritual condition. I’m just sharing my reflection on the important principle that he raised.
Life is very good at punching us in the face and causing us to lose our balance. We’ve all been hit with hardships and heartbreaks—and if we haven’t yet, we will be. We’re also under constant attack from all kinds of temptations. Jesus warned that the world would be full of trials and tribulations, and he never promised to keep them away from his followers, but he did share the secret to having a fruitful life.
In John 15, Jesus boldly declares that he is the spiritual place where we must dwell if we want to draw on his strength. He encourages us to “abide” in him and uses the illustration of a grapevine to prove his point. “I am the vine, and you are the branches,” he states, painting a picture of our absolute dependence on him. We all know what happens to a branch when it’s been cut off from the tree. It doesn’t take long to dry up and wither.
Jesus promises that if we stay in that place of abiding in him—if we maintain that close connection to him—we’ll bear abundant fruit. This fruit can take many forms: accomplishing God’s work, having the strength to endure tough times, making wise decisions, staying humble when others praise us, resisting temptation, or loving our enemies. Basically, anything that furthers divine glory and human well-being.
God is the source of love, joy, peace, wisdom, and strength. It’s no wonder that if we desire to experience these qualities, we must stay as close as possible to their supplier. If we stray too far away, we become like that branch cut off from the tree.
How do we stay in this place of abiding in Christ? No special formula works for everyone because it’s all about maintaining a close relationship, and each one of us is different. Some can spend hours in God’s Word, whereas others prefer to listen to the audiobook version. Some find online sermons helpful, while others prefer to focus on prayer. “Abiding” will always include the Bible and prayer in some way, but what’s important is that we each find what works for us.
The difficulty we face is to maintain our closeness with Christ every day. I admit I’ve struggled with this, and just like the tide, my connection with Jesus ebbs and flows. My consolation is that I know I’m not the only one, and Jesus is neither surprised nor angry. He’s always ready to help me find my way back into the place of abiding with him.
And so, as we journey through the uncertainties and challenges of life, let’s stay close to Jesus—let’s create a special place of abiding in him—and not only will we benefit, but those around us as well, with the final result bringing glory to God.