It is possible to tick the boxes of good works, perseverance and rejecting false teaching but have a dwindling love for Jesus. It’s not enough to have magnificent buildings (Notre Dame??), inspiring leadership (remember, the Ephesian church had Paul, Timothy and John), or the latest programs. The first, the most important thing for each of us must be our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus desires to make this point in John 15 where He uses the word ‘meno’ (abide or remain) 10 times in seven verses.
John 15: 1-17 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruithe prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, justas I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My commandis this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
We are chosen and appointed in order that we might bear fruit. Bearing fruit does not look like doing more. It comes from abiding in, remaining in Jesus, and He in us. What is this fruit we are meant to bear? Jesus is with us and in us by His Spirit, and we’re told the that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Eph. 5:22). Jesus also tells us (in John 15), “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…. This is my command: Love each other”.
Becoming a Christian takes just a moment – one decision. But it also takes a lifetime. In this life we are always becoming. With Jesus, we are becoming sanctified, made more like Christ. We will not achieve becoming in this life. We must pursue this becoming every day.
I hope that when you look at the image of the GBC mission that you see at least one petal that you’re passionate about, whether it’s children, young people, refugees, seniors or overseas mission. The most effective thing you can do for those people is to have a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus.
At GBC we have a lot of passionate people, servant-hearted people, people doing lots of things for the church and for God’s kingdom. But the most effective thing you can do for God’s kingdom and God’s church is to have a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus.
Book in some time with Jesus and ask these things:
Do I want to be closer to Jesus? (heart answer, not just head answer) What could I do to take a step closer to Jesus?
God, what part of my life do I need to let you transform? Where am I resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit? What needs to change?
Who am I struggling to love? How do you want me to love them, Jesus?
Blessings as you bravely continue this journey with Jesus.