I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been a bizarre year. And it’s only July. I don’t want to sound dismal or anything, but it has been rough. With all the craziness in our world, we can easily get distracted. So as you read this, take a moment of your time and evaluate yourself before God. In your daily life, are you seeking maturity in Christ?
“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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5).
I’m so thankful for God giving us His word. It helps in every area of our lives. And it’s extremely humbling. Here Christ is telling us what mature Christians look like: connected to Him and dependent on Him for daily fruitfulness. Let’s talk about two questions from this passage that we can use to determine areas of growth needed in our lives.
Do I take offense easily?
Matt Smethurst, a pastor and writer, said recently, “An immature Christian is hard to please and easy to offend.” It may not seem immediately obvious where this question connects to John, but stay with me further.
When we are self-dependent and rely on our own works or systems, we are quick to take offense, especially when criticism comes. Why? Because we have been working so hard in this or that area and now someone is talking about it. If the fruit of your labor is the focus of your life, you aren’t looking to be connected to and dependent on Christ.
You can even dive deeper into this question by asking the follow-up question: “In what areas am I most easily offended?” That follow-up question will most likely reveal areas of growth for you. I know it often does for me!
Take a few moments before continuing and reflect on this question. It will help you determine the pain points, the areas that you struggle in. The next question I want to consider will help us with the path forward from those pain points.
In what ways can I seek to become more connected with and dependent on Christ?
A vine is a source of nourishment for the branches. Disconnected, the vine will die. Christ is that vine from whom we receive the necessary nourishment to lead lives that flourish. So when we are talking about being connected and dependent on Christ, we are talking about life and death.
This isn’t me telling you steps for a better life. This is God telling us that apart from Christ we shrivel up and die. We are in need of closeness with God through Christ. And here’s the good news: God has made it possible.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
God wants closeness with His children. Because of Christ’s completed work on the cross and in the resurrection, we have a path to God. And He says, “Come.” Just come. So stop seeing the temptations of this world as better than God’s promises. Leave it behind and come to Him.
Jesus has closed the gap, paid the cost, cleansed the sinner, and invited us into the family. We are called to believe that with a belief that humbles us by the strength of the Spirit and transforms our heart to long, to come, to abide.
Oh, and did I mention that this is a promise? God will always draw near to His children that come to Him. He won’t turn us away. He will show His faithful love. When we are so focused on the love of God that it flows from us, we don’t easily take offense because we are too full and too pleased with God to care when others revile us on Christ’s account.
Still need practical steps of what belief looks like? Fill your cup with Jesus. Read His words. Listen to biblical truth in song and music. Sit under the preaching of God’s word with a solid church who cares for your soul. Seek accountability. Be humble before God. Be thankful for His work in your life. Be connected and dependent on Him.