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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

Abide in Him

Seven Christians who changed the world

What was the secret of their success? What motivated them?

How did they find courage and perseverance to fight against poverty and injustice?

At the end of this article I give a brief introduction to each one and few of their inspirational insights, in their own words. They all acknowledge that their strength came from God and their inspiration from Jesus.

Jesus taught that we will bear much fruit, if we remain in Him.

But apart from Him, we can do nothing.

Let's look at what Jesus said first, to see the source of their inspiration.

And unusually for me, I've chosen the King James Version of these verses -

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
John 15 v 1-17 KJV

This is a call to abide in Him

And this is a rich seam of truth to mine.

Through this teaching of Christ’s we can learn so much, but we are only going to consider one phrase - Abide in me - which is the one used in the passage above and is why I used this version.

Jesus is using the picture of us being like branches in a vine and he himself being that vine. The branches are totally dependent on the stem for life. Detached they will die.

We are in peril is we want to live a life independent of Jesus. All our nourishment and goodness come from him.

Remain in him. Stay in him. Abide in him. Continue in his love.

Abide has the connotation of abode or home. Our lives are hidden in Christ.

He knocks at the door.

If we hear his call and open the door, he will come in and eat with us.

Our continual state of being is in him.

Otherwise how could we pray continually. ( 1 Thessalonians 5 v 17)

Practising The Presence of God

Brother Lawrence was a monk who lived in Paris in the seventeenth century. He practised the presence of God. ‘Brother Lawrence’s heartfelt goal was to think nothing but God’, but he had a job in the kitchen, peeling vegetables.

Knowing only that God was present, he walked in the light of faith and was content just to lose himself in God’s love no matter what happened. In God’s love he would find himself again.

I can be aware of God when I’m doing a mundane task like this, but find I it much harder when I’m teaching. Is it possible to be mindful of Jesus all of the time?

The time of business does not differ for me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were on my knees.
Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence is the first of the Christians that I've chosen, who changed His world. I'm not sure we will be able to see the influence of his hidden work until the Kingdom of Heaven comes in its entirety. He didn't have any direct influence on the social ills of his day, as did the other six, but he humbly showed us by example how to abide in Christ.

Eyes to See

Another way to describe the practise of the presence of God, is to be mindful of Him whatever we are doing. It causes us to see the world differently.

Jesus didn't pray that we would be taken out of the world, but that we would be protected from the prince of this world. Jesus knew that He was from a different world, and that we are too. He looked at the world through different eyes.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
Jesus (John 17 v 15, 16)

As we start to see the world with different eyes, we will see more clearly what is wrong with it. Our prayer will increasingly be -

Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

And as we pray this more, we will want to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven in our world. We will want to change the world.

Six Christians Who Changed The World

I have chosen six examples of Christians who worked to change the world that they lived in, because they had a vision of something different.

Six people who combined Christian service with a deep devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Six people who remained in the vine and bore much fruit.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

John Chrysostom lived in the time of the Byzantium Empire in the fourth century AD. He was a leader of the church in both Antioch and Constantinople. Many of his homilies still exist today, and it is clear that he worked on behalf of the poor. He is honoured as a saint in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church and as an early church father by all denominations.

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, and suffered a head trauma as a child at the hands of a slave owner. She escaped in 1849 and helped many other slaves escape to the Northern States. She had vivid dreams and visions, and believed that the Lord directed her and the other escapees by safe routes.

Elizabeth Fry was a prison reformer in England in the nineteenth century. She was from a wealthy Quaker family, and worked for social justice and change because of her Christian faith.

A W Tozer wrote many deeply spiritual Christian books whilst busy serving as the pastor in, amongst other places, a church in Chicago, USA. He didn't retreat to write his books, but kept ministering to his flock. He died in 1963.

Desmond Tutu was born in 1931, and as a boy his dream was to become a man of God. He was at the forefront of the fight against Apartheid, and after its collapse became the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 and was of Albanian/Indian descent. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, which has a vow to give wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor. She is recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

a  golden mosaic of Saint John Chyysoston

The rich exist for the sake of the poor

The poor exist for the salvation of the rich

The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books,

but that we should engrave them upon our hearts.

Saint John Chrysostom

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

Always remember, you have within you the strength,

the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Twant me. Twas the Lord.

I always told him, 'I trust to you.

I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,'

and he always did.

Harriet Tubman

A sketch of Elizabeth Fry in a bonnet

Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal.

Oh Lord, may I be directed what to do

and what to leave undone.

Elizabeth Fry

a photo of A W Tozer

We cannot pray in love and

live in hate and still think that

we are worshipping God

Whatever fascinates you

will guide you, so pray that

the only thing that'll fascinate you

is God and His marvellous glory

A W Tozer

A photo of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, smiling

Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing

For Africa...has been traditionally concerned about the wholeness of relationships. That is something we need in this world -

a world that is polarised,

a world that is fragmented,

a world that destroys people.

If peace is our goal, there can be no future without forgiveness

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you judge people,

you have no time to love them.

The fruit of silence is prayer.

The fruit of prayer is faith.

The fruit of faith is love.

The fruit of love is service.

The fruit of service is peace.

My secret is simple: I pray.

Mother Teresa

Changing Your World

This is a call to change your world

Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa
Do your little bit of good where you are; It's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Faithfulness in little things is a big thing. Saint John Chrysostom

If we want to change our world, first we come to God, and we allow him to change us.

Then we start where we are, with the little things of goodness and love we can do.

If we are faithful in the little things, God may ask us to do something bigger.

But our first call is not to service. It is not to change the world.

Our first call is to the presence of God.

Our first call is to prayer.

Our first call is to God.

This is a call to prayer

This is a call to abide in Him.

We need to be humble enough to realise that if we want achieve anything we need God.

I would prefer to fail at something that will ultimately succeed,

than to succeed in something that will ultimately fail.

If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing

Abide with me GENTRI Hymns

This inspiring hymn was written by the Anglican vicar of Brixham, UK in 1847, just weeks before he died of tuberculosis at the age of just 45. This enduring classic, much beloved of football fans, was performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games in London. Here it is beautifully arranged and harmonised by GENTRI, a group of 3 tenors.

A hymn for any who are sick.

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