Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Dear Colleagues,


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Living the Christian life is impossible

. By you, that is.

An old friend whom I had not seen in years called the other day and asked if we could have lunch together. During the course of the conversation, I was struck with how tightly wound he was, as he related the stress in his work and home life. Finally, I commented, "Norm, do you ever get tired pushing the peanut up the mountain with your nose?" "How about a watermelon?" came his response. I am convinced that Norm is a believer in Christ but has yet to discover the peace and rest available to him by allowing the very life of Jesus to live through him.

The vine-branch union that Jesus spoke of in John 15 illustrates the effortless aspect of the abiding life. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The branches are not called upon to struggle, strive, or worry in their effort to bear fruit. Rather, they are simply called upon to live connected to the vine, "Remain (live) in me, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:4,5)

Recently I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix. Actually, the plane did the flying. As a passenger I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Similarly, Christ is available to empower and live his life through us, his willing vessels.

When we live in union with Christ, pruning, cleansing, and fruit bearing naturally happen, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." Jn. 15:2,3)

To thrive and grow, a branch requires a particular environment

: Water, sunshine, pruning, fertilizer, etc. In similar fashion, as Christs followers, we need certain essentials to bear fruit:

Uncompromising obedience to Gods word. This will only be accomplished by prayerful meditation on the Scriptures, with a view toward application, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Josh. 1:8)

The fellowship, stimulation and encouragement of fellow believers, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:24,25)

A life of selfless service to Jesus Christ, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Lk. 9:23,24)

Let us determine from this moment forward to cease striving and allow the very life of Jesus to flow through us. Attempting to live the Christian on our own strength is an exercise in futility that is doomed to frustration and failure.

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