I’m going to warn you.
You’ve heard this before.
This is an old message.
So why am I writing about it?
Because humans are fickle creatures, and for some absurd reason we need to be told the same thing a thousand and one times before it starts to actually sink into our thick skulls.
I am a person who never stops thinking about anything and everything. In my relationship with the Creator of Language it’s the same.
God, what about this?
God, I’m sorry about this.
Oh, and that.
Wait, so there’s this too.
And what about this?
Oh, man, I need to do that.
I’ll get it right God, soon, I promise. Just wait.
As followers of the Father of Lights, we are called to a life of sanctification and perfection, and so often I get caught in the trap of perfection, and in that process neglect the one for whom I attempt such a feat.
Oh man, I need to be more kind and help orphans in their distress, and send a check to the refugee crisis and be kind to people and have mercy on people and be less resistant to your will and what even is your will for my life and oh my gosh I’m probably not even following your will and I should start a bible study and that will make me feel like I’m doing some good and crap I didn’t pray for that coworker when I should have and man I really need to be having more time in your word and pray for widows and I should go to Africa and I wonder if there’s an opportunity I could help out with and man I should be more joyful and oh my word I can’t believe I did that again I’m sorry God man I should be over this by now and I need to get that book yes that will help me and maybe I should talk to someone and I’m sorry I’m not more excited to talk to you and man I should have said something more Godly in that conversation and oh that Christian looks like they love you so much why can’t I love you like that please give me more of a hunger for you and a passion and I want to experience things and heal people and pray for people and be awesome and have people look at me and oh wait I’m sorry that’s selfish God help me be less prideful gosh I didn’t realize how prideful I was until now maybe I should listen to that one sermon I heard once about getting rid of pride and…
This is my relationship with the Creator. I stumble around struggling under the weight of many great and wonderful things I want to do and the images of what I think I should look like and I stack them in one pile in front of God and then wonder why I can’t see His face anymore.
I have buried Him in my pile of me.
It’s impossible for me to do all the things I think I should do for God. Impossible. It’s impossible for me to be all that I think I should be.
Impossible without God.
See, in today’s fast-paced culture and knowledge-saturated day-to-day lives, we get so many ideas about what we should be like as Christians and what God’s will is and this and that and am I the only one that’s tired of all the books I’m told to read to become more enlightened in my relationship with the Unseen God?
I’m tired of all the videos of messages I need to watch, the books I have to read, the trips and activities I should be doing in order to become more like Christ. It has to be simpler. It can’t be this complicated. It can’t.
And in the midst of the red letters one word stands out among the others.
This is the life Christ calls us to.
Abide in Him, and in doing so we are made into his likeness.
The branches don’t produce fruit apart from the vine.
So many times I feel like a dead branch, laying on the ground next to the vine, looking up at the vine and saying something like “Wait just a little longer, until I produce some grapes, and then I’ll join you.”
To abide means to dwell within, to reside with, or maintain a certain attitude or relationship.
So many times I forget the fundamental part of this insane relationship between me and the Father of Lights.
I forget to abide.
Sure, I read his word, a say a prayer, sing some worship songs, etc; but is that abiding or is that visiting?
I think as a follower of the Most High I think of my relationship with Him much more in visitations than abiding. Today’s Christian subculture doesn’t help this thinking at all.
We say we need to have “time with God” (quiet time sound familiar?) every day. And yes, WE DO NEED THIS. God cherishes this time with us. But this time with God contrasts our other time into becoming not time with God. We act like the quiet place is the time where we get with Him and fail to realize that we can have this time literally 24 hours a day. Yes, there should be special times where you get deeper in the Word and longer time in prayer and petition and talking to him, but don’t leave your Heavenly Father home in your prayer closet. He longs to talk with you throughout your day.
We continually hear worship leaders and pastors asking for his presence. Um, wake up call, He’s here already. And he’s not only here in the room, but his Spirit lives inside each one of us. Can we move on from asking for his presence to just thanking him for it and abiding in it? (sorry not sorry)
To abide means to dwell. If I dwell in something, I’m surrounded by it. I live in it. It’s my home.
Oh, how the Creator of the Universe longs to be our home! How do we do this? By spending more time talking to him throughout the day, reading more of his word, worshiping him more, loving on him more, adoring his presence.
Notice how most of the answers to a Christians’s problems in their walk are the same?
Q: How do I encounter God?
A: Spend time with Him.
Q: How do I hunger for him more?
A: Spend time with Him.
Q: How do I become more passionate about his Word?
A: Read it more.
Q: How do I know the will of God for my life?
A: Spend time with Him.
Q: How do I become more joyful?
A: Spend time with Him.
The list goes on and on, the answers are always the same.
We make this relationship so much more complicated than it needs to be. In the beginning, God and man abided perfectly. Man messed that up, and so God set to make things back to how they were originally. Namely, so that he could abide with us again.
Yes, it’s that simple.
No, you don’t need to buy that 23 dollar book at Berean on how to become a better Christian in areas 1,2 and 3. You just need to abide. It’s the answer to everything. Ask a on-fire Christian their secret and unless they’re a fake they’ll say something to the tune of “I live in His presence, I spend exuberant amounts of time with Him etc,” meaning they abide in Him.
The branch only produces fruit because it’s attached to the vine. Abide in Him first and his fruits in you will most definitely follow. You can always tell the abiding Christian from the non-abding one because the fruits are always evident.
The amount Christian books out there makes me somewhat sad, is because it makes evident the effort people are putting into becoming like Christ and doing the right thing apart from him. (No, I’m not saying that all Christian books are evil calm down) We’d rather read a 200 page book on how to become more passionate about Jesus than take the time to sit and talk with Him and meditate on His words and saturate ourselves in his presence.
We fail to realize that we cannot have the product without the process.
John Piper once said “Freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with Christ.”
It’s that simple.
Jesus never laid out the Christian walk so complicated like we make it today. He never said it would be easy, but he never said it was complicated. He simply told us to pick up our cross and follow him.
To lay our burdens on Him.
To cast our cares on him.
To love him.
To abide in Him.
He’ll take care of the rest.
““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 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. 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. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”