“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Maria and I estimate that since we moved to the Calgary area twenty years ago we have likely made the drive back to Moose Jaw between two hundred and two hundred fifty times. The drive is seven hundred and twenty-one kilometers each way. On almost every trip, usually somewhere between Brooks and Medicine Hat, I find myself wishing that there were some sort of mystical shortcut that would get us to our destination without needing to put in the tedious hours of driving or spending yet another seventy-five dollars for a tank of gas. The truth is, if we want to get to where we want to be, we must commit to investing the time and resources needed to get there.
It has always been a part of human nature to look for a shortcut, to find an easier way, or to try to cut corners for the sake of expediency. Yet time and time again it is proven that in order to truly make gains, one has to put in the time and the effort. In order to grow in physical fitness, one must meaningfully exercise every day. In order to be financially prepared for the future, one must store away a little every month for many years. In order to grow in skills and abilities, one must practice and put those skills to use over a long period of time. There is no growth without commitment, diligence, and dedication. This is true of our spiritual lives as well.
One of the glorious truths of the Christian faith is that our salvation is a gift from God, it is not something that we can earn. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
If you are a follower of Jesus, your rebirth was entirely the work of God. Your growth subsequent to salvation is something different. Having been born again, your growth and maturity comes only from a dynamic relationship with him. That relationship is marked by both dependence and cooperation. You are still utterly dependent upon him for all that you need, for he is your source, yet he calls you to cooperate with him in receiving all that you need. In John 14, Jesus called this abiding, or as many versions of the scripture translate it, remaining.
At RockPointe we are currently experiencing our ‘Abide’ teaching series. In each week of this series we will be discovering together some of the practices that help us to remain connected to our true source, Jesus. The practices of Stillness, Prayer, time in the Word of God, Remembrance of what God has done, and participating in Community are all ways that we can remain connected to him. Unlike the drive to Moose Jaw or denying your present desires for the sake of the future reward, remaining is Jesus is pure delight. Abiding not only works toward the desired outcome of being like Jesus, it provides great delight in the present.
It is the best possible way to live here and now.