Something Christians get good at doing is, well, doing.
We create checklists, track our prayer time, get our Bible reading in, attend and/or serve in our local church, and the laundry list goes on. And before you know it, you’re burnt out, turned off, and feeling bad about not getting your “time with God” in or even worse, not doing enough.
In this post, I want to talk about what it means to live from God, not just for Him.
I think we got the for part down pretty well.
In John 15:5, Jesus said: 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.
We’ve gotten it a little backwards. Hypothetically, we’ve taken the verse and said: I am the branch, living for the Vine. The more I do for God, the more He’ll do for me. I’ll bear more fruit and reap more blessings, for apart from doing, I am nothing.
What you do for God is not as important as who you are for God.
Don’t get me wrong, these things are also vital for our spiritual growth. It’s important to read your Bible, to set aside time for prayer, to serve at your local church, and so on. But it should be from an outpouring of who you are in Him instead of what needs to get done according to your to-do list. These things shouldn’t define your worth.
Instead of getting caught up in the works and the doings, it’s time to get caught up in being. Being with and living from the Vine. The doings will follow the being because whoever abides in Him will bear much fruit.
It’s more than just doing good and being nice to people. Anyone can do that. It’s about deepening your relationship with God and doing things from Him; from a relationship with Him.
One of the most common misconceptions among Christians is that your worth and level of righteousness gets based on how much you do FOR God. But just like it’s impossible for a branch to bear fruit apart from the vine, it’s impossible for you to do true good for God and His Kingdom apart from Him.
One commentator puts it this way, all our sap and safety is from Christ. The bud of a good desire, the blossom of a good resolution, and the fruit of a good action, all come from him.
As a branch is connected to the vine, you will grow further, wider, and stronger because you know Who the source of life is. Jesus is the vine from which all life comes!
And just as much as the branch is connected to the vine, so is the vine to the branch. There is a mutual relationship between the two. Each branch needs a different amount of “sap” from the vine, different levels of nurturing, etc. but ultimately, the vine is there.
The connection between the Vine and the Branch is your relationship with God. God is present in your life as He is in my life. His involvement is not more or less than, but rather individual to us both. He’s our common denominator and only Truth.
As a believer, you know fairly quickly when you come across another believer. It’s not just through the talk, but by what (or Who) connects us: the Vine!
We stem from Him and can connect with each other to build each other up in faith, hope, and love. It’s not just believing in a set of truths, ethics and morals, or principles, but getting interconnected with His life changing salvation and transformative Truth, which then flows out of you.
Matthew 5:16 says to Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. But it’s not because of your own “shining” that they see good works, but because you’re plugged into (so to say) to the right power source: God.
If you read James 2:14-26, you’ll see that this isn’t an excuse to avoid works. You’ll still have to do things and serve (however you want to put it). But the point is doing it all from a place of abiding in God and loving Him. It’s not about conjuring and getting worked up about things while feeling inadequate. It’s about understanding that without Jesus, the Vine, you are inadequate.
Fruit bearing is inevitable when you’re abiding. God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by that fruit.
Just as the branch resembles and relies on the vine; just as a lamp relies on the right power source to shine bright; and just like sheep respond to only the voice of their shepherd, so must we be with Jesus.