As Jesus walked with His disciples to Gethsemane, He gave them some final instructions. He explained the nature of the relationship He wanted them to have with Him after His resurrection. He compared what He wanted for their lives with that of a fruitful vine:
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. —John 15:1–8
The Christian life at its fullest is much more than activities or appearances; it is a relationship. Christ wants us to cultivate a genuine relationship with Him that penetrates far deeper than a simple prayer before a meal or regular church attendance. He wants us to want Him, to daily share our lives with Him.
If we are to cultivate a relationship with Him, we must spend time in His Word and in prayer. We must include Him in every aspect of our lives. John 15 teaches us that as we are nurturing our relationship with Christ, He wants to work in and through us to produce fruitful lives.
Throughout the New Testament we see that Christian growth is a work of God’s Spirit in us, not a work accomplished by our frail efforts. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” And Philippians 2:13 encourages, “For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
The empowerment for an abiding walk with God is Christ! He has made His power available to us. We must simply rely on it, and by faith walk in it.
If you are struggling in your Christian walk, take your struggles to the Lord. Be honest with God. Tell Him that you’re finding it hard to be faithful, but that you want to obey Him, and that you need His strength. Let Him be your sufficiency.
The story is told of a new missionary who went to the field to relieve an experienced missionary who needed a furlough. The veteran missionary left his car for the new missionary to use. It was parked across the street from the church, and it was pointing down the hill.
The new missionary tried to start the vehicle, but there was no power. He thought to himself, “This must be why the former missionary left the car parked like this, so he can roll the car downhill and jump start it.” So for three months, the new missionary parked the car pointing downhill and rolled it down to start it. There were times when the car died on him, and he had to ask the local children to help him push it, using their strength and his.
When the older missionary returned three months later, the younger missionary commented, “You were so smart to leave the car parked downhill. Doing so helped me start it so much easier.”
The older missionary looked puzzled and went out to look at the car. He opened the hood and noticed that the battery cable had become loose. He tightened the cable, and the car started right up.
How many times do we try to use our own strength to accomplish God’s work? This story reminds us that what we really need is to be connected to God’s power through an abiding relationship with Christ.