Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are You a Fan of The Fruit or The Vine?

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
~ John 15:5, NASB ~

They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes.
~ Romans 1:21-23, GW ~

A cherished friend and mentor of mine shared a story with me several years ago.  She told of an influential preacher who lost his voice for a significant stretch of time.  In his frustration, this preacher wrestled with the Lord in prayer.  The response he heard from God was unmistakable, 
"Do you love ME or do you love preaching about Me?"

Humbled, the preacher found the orientation of his heart and soul transformed.  Eventually, his voice returned.  He returned to proclaiming the message of Christ, only this time with complete submission and connectedness to the Savior.

Each one of us is either as guilty or as vulnerable as that voiceless preacher.  Sinners from birth, we are prone to worship the created over the Creator.  

Before you loudly object or deny it, take a look at how insidious this upside down theology can sneak into our lives.  These are a few indicators that can expose a deterioration of your relationship with God:

  • You look to government programs to be your savior, rather than Christ's provision. (An easy trap to fall into for those of us with fragile kids)
  • You spend more time reading Christian books than you do actually reading the Bible. (Been there, done that)
  • You regularly prioritize acts of service over quiet time alone in prayer with God. (Done that too)
  • You spend more time giving decrying the woes of social justice than you do in regularly entering into the messy lives of others as a natural habit of loving like Jesus. (I see that one way too often.)
  • You treat people more like a project than engaging in authentic community with them. (Far too easy to do in our over-scheduled lives today)
  • You find yourself considering others as less holy or enlightened as you because they don't run in the same church circles, engage in the same studies, or participate in as many missions projects as you.  (Careful!  You may just trip over something with that nose in the air!)
  • You judge your standing with God based on your wealth, accomplishments, degrees, success, or lack of troubles. (AKA "The Insiders Club")
  • Your kid with executive functioning issues either tells you that Jesus wouldn't be happy with you or calls you a hypocrite.  (Don't you HATE it when our kids call us out like that and are right?!)

While this is in no way a comprehensive list of indicators, I think we can each find ourselves in at least 1 of these illustrations. We are given to falling more in love with the fruit than we are with the Producer of that fruit. 

This issue is pivotal because unless God is our Alpha, Omega, and everything in between, we will have a hard time living above our circumstances.  We will doubt the Almighty's goodness when the fruit in our lives looks scrawny, or bruised, or wormy.  It's a dangerous place to be emotionally AND spiritually when we expect our Maker to cater to us like a genie in a Bible. 

God woos us back from our wandering just like He did the Early Church in Ephesus, "But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning.  So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you do not change, I will come to you and will take away your lampstand from its place." (Revelation 2:4-5, NCV)

The evil one is talented at distracting us into choosing the good, rather than pursuing God's best.  All of our works, all of our worldly wisdom, all of the blessings the Lord generously pours over us can never take the place of intimate relationship Him.  We must commit ourselves to humility and the unwavering Truth, lest we suddenly awake and find ourselves far from our One True Vine.

PRAY:  Father, may it never be that we love what You do for us more than we love You!  Holy Spirit, tap on our shoulders and wake us up when we get close to veering off course.  Be our All in All.

~ Barb Dittrich

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