Do you ever find yourself feeling dried out, burned out, and overwhelmed by the challenges you face? Jesus told his disciples the secret to overcoming their difficulties. That same thing empowers us to overcome our challenges, too. What’s this secret to an abundant life of peace, purpose, and joy?
What’s the secret?
It’s actually not a secret, but a relationship. I grew up going to church, and if you would have asked me back then, I would have told you I was a Christian. But I wasn’t. I just didn’t realize I wasn’t.
I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ until I was in my mid-twenties. In the years prior, I heard people talk about living by the Spirit, walking with God, and other such phrases, but I didn’t get it. How did you walk with someone you couldn’t see? And what in the world did being covered in some guy’s blood have to do with saving me? Saving me from what? It just made no sense to me.
I eventually learned being a Christian is not about going to church, doing “churchy” things, or even at its core about doing good works. It is foremost about being in a relationship with Jesus through which God conforms us to his character and likeness. So, how do we have that kind of relationship?
Accept God’s Offer
In John 15:1-9, Jesus uses a metaphor of a grapevine to explain this concept. Jesus is the vine from which true life comes. From the beginning, God intended for us to be united with him as a branch is united with the trunk or vine. When we live our way instead of God’s, we are like a branch disconnected from the vine. Death is the inevitable result of separating from our source of life.
But, despite our rejection of him, God graciously offers to graft us back into the vine and restore us. We need only agree we need him to restore us. That is what confession is: agreeing with God that we have chosen to reject his way. When we turn from our rejection and move toward God and his way of living, that is called repentance.
When a gardener grafts a shoot onto a vine, he uses a grafting compound or solution. Likewise, God covers our rejection of him and its inevitable consequences with the blood of Jesus. When our repentant heart is covered by his blood, we are united eternally to God.
With a simple prayer, in which we confess, repent, and place our trust in the blood of Jesus, we are saved from the inevitable death caused by our separation. Once united, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us. Just as the sap from the vine courses through the grafted shoot and keeps it thriving, God’s Spirit empowers us to grow into a strong branch capable of bearing much fruit for God’s kingdom.
You have new life, now how do you live it?
Have you accepted God’s offer to reconnect you to your source of life? If not, consider doing so now. If you have accepted Christ, that prayer is merely the beginning of your new life. Once grafted in, how do we live this new life?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Develop an ongoing attitude of worship in all you do.
Avoid compartmentalizing your life into times “with God” and times where you go about your daily activities unaware of his presence with you. Don’t wait for Sunday morning worship “dates” to express and receive love for and from God. Learn to integrate worship into your everyday moments.
2. Avoid supplanting your relationship with Jesus with doing things for him and others.
The relationship must be the priority not the things we do. Let what you do flow naturally from the overflow of the relationship. In his metaphor, Jesus said the branches would produce fruit that showed they were his disciples. Fruit was the by-product of the relationship, not a substitute for it.
3. Study the Bible.
If you don’t know much about someone, you interact on a more superficial basis and it is much easier to misunderstand or misconstrue their actions. As we study the Scriptures, we learn about God’s character, how he relates to us, and how he designed us to live. This will enrich our relationship and allow it to be more intimate.
Bible study, if done right, is exciting, interesting, and rewarding. If that hasn’t been your experience, you’ve probably been in the wrong kind of study. Find a study that works with how God created you and fits into the life situation in which he has placed you at this time.
Even if we know someone well, the relationship suffers if there is a lack of communication. Prayer is how we communicate with God. If you’re uncomfortable with prayer or not sure how powerful prayer can be, pray with someone who really gets it. If no one like that is available to you, visit the website of Let’s Pray Today Ministries. Their resources, many of which are free, provide you with a virtual prayer mentor who will help you find your voice before the Lord.
This post provides just a tiny sample of how we remain in the vine. There are so many practical ways to live by the Spirit and experience the abundant life Jesus provides. If you’d like to explore how to develop or “makeover” your relationship with Jesus in ways that fit with the personality, learning style, and other unique aspects of who God created you to be, click the button below and I’ll send you a step-by-step guide for building a custom-made relationship with Jesus.
Want to go even more in-depth? You might enjoy my Bible study, Remaining in the Vine.
If you pray to accept God’s offer as described above, please tell a Christian friend and ask them to help you get started in your new life. And please email me at email@example.com and let me know. I would love to celebrate with you and pray for you.
Question: How do you remain in Christ and live by the Spirit? You can leave a comment by clicking here.