Do you feel like you're looking for the right ratio of praying to studying to doing? And that if you could just get this right everything would be hunky dory, or you would at least feel like a qualified member of the I'm Adequately Spiritual Club?
Maybe you are just wondering exactly how it is that one goes about seeking first the face of God . . . or the ever more difficult "let go and let God".
And why doesn't it work on the few occasions when I feel that I am actually getting it right? (although admitting that you are, for even a brief moment, getting it right brings on a huge guilt complex because you just can't do that, so they say.)
The beginning of a relationship that works is not found in understanding yourself or the other person, but in understanding the relationship itself. Our relationship with Jesus is no different. We cannot fully understand this relationship. We know some of how it came about and why, and we can grow in knowledge and understanding of it, but we will not fully understand it until we are with Him in eternity, and I don't know if we'll know it all even then. But, it is a relationship that is intended to "work", not just merely exist.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I'm teaching Sunday School again, and I'm with a group that I would never have thought I would be teaching, and I love it - them! The material is a little different than what I am used to "teaching" in the way it is presented, and I probably would not have chosen it based on a preconceived notion of what I thought it would be. But, I'm loving this material also! MasterWork.
I learn so much when I teach. Please understand that I use the word teach in its loosest definition. (I don't think I've ever written the word "loosest". But, despite how bogus it looks it is a real word.) I am uncomfortable approaching this Sunday School teacher thing with the mindset that I know something you don't. Yeah, I might, but I might not. And, if it comes from me, it's of no good use anyway. I seek the Holy Spirit's guidance and pray that I can keep myself out of the way. Of course, there are more "new" things to be learned by us all than we will ever grasp. And if God uses me to bring new, more, or deeper knowledge to someone I am greatly humbled by that. I view my role as more to bring an understanding, maybe even a deeper understanding, of what we already know - something I so often fail miserably at - or to bring a certain perspective to it, and hopefully help someone find a way to live by it. . . . OK. Enough of that little aside.
We just started a study on John 15. This is where understanding of a follower's relationship with Jesus begins, and if everything else you know and learn about your relationship grows out of this you will find that your "complicated relationship" becomes much simpler than the one you've been living!
It begins with “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser." A few verses in it goes on to say "I am the vine; you are the branches." These words are written in red. These are the words of Jesus Himself. He also says "Abide in me, and I in you."
The vine and the branch is a great illustration of just how "Abide in me and I in you" works. I'm not much of a gardener, and I don't remember ever grafting anything onto anything else in the plant world. But, a graft occurs when, in this case, the vine sends fibers into the grafted branch and the grafted branch sends fibers into the vine. They grow into each other, they fuse together, and they become one. This is what Jesus is talking about. This is happening in those of us who know Jesus.
Now the purpose of the branch is to produce fruit for the gardener, or the vinedresser. So, in our relationship with Jesus, our purpose is to produce fruit for God. This truth scares a lot of people, but here's the thing: just like the branch receives everything it needs to produce fruit from the vine, we receive everything we need from Jesus to produce fruit that is desirable and pleasing to God. . . . everything.
John 15:4"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."
Isaiah 27:2-3 In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day;"
Our relationship is simple. We are now in Him and He is in us. Remember those fibers reaching into each other in the grafted branch? Everything we need for life and to fulfill our purpose is found in Him and flows freely from Him to us.
I can see our relationship, Jesus and me, beginning to "work better" as I think in these terms. He is the vine, I am the branch, my purpose is to produce fruit, and everything . . . everything (bears repeating) . . . He needs to produce that fruit in me comes from Him.
Your relationship hasn't been working? You want to see that change? Make it your prayer. Simply say "Father, make me a branch." Pray that daily . . . throughout the day. Of course you already are the branch, but this intentional way of thinking and purposeful speaking will begin to bring you into sync with what the Holy Spirit is trying to work within you. You will have a new perspective on who you are in Jesus. This is where it really begins.
PS - About all that fruit . . . coming soon!