I was at my sister’s house the other day and noticed a framed picture with a Bible verse underneath it. I can’t seem to get this passage of Scripture out of my mind lately.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)
We’ve been trying to teach my little nieces Bible verses every chance that we get. Let me just go ahead and tell you something- we don’t give kids enough credit sometimes as to what they can do. In the span of one week, they each memorized 4 or 5 verses. That’s more than most of us adults try to tackle in a year! Our prayer is that God will cultivate His word in their hearts and minds to prick their souls with His Holy Spirit as they need reminders. His Word does not return void, so we are trusting Him for that and using every opportunity we can to teach them to love His Word.
One of their memory verses was on the fruits of the Spirit. You know the one…we Christians just loooooovvvvvvvveeeee to decorate dishes, recipe boxes, cards, etc. with? But so often, no matter how many visual reminders are before us we forget to put them into practice…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
In trying to explain to them what Spiritual fruit is, we talked about how Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. We talked about how if we’re really a part of Jesus, we’ll show it by how we live.
“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.” (John 15:4-5 NIV)
It sounds so simple. Yet, it’s so complex.
It’s really hard to love someone when they’re screaming at you.
It’s not easy to feel joyful as you watch a loved one’s earthly shell fade away.
It’s hard to have peace when you don’t know when your next paycheck is coming.
It’s trying to be kind when someone rear ends you.
It’s hard to find goodness in your heart when there’s so much evil in this world.
It’s difficult to be faithful in the little things when so many cheat the system and get away with it.
It’s cumbersome to have a gentle spirit after someone lashes out at you.
It’s really tough to keep your self controlled when someone pushes your buttons.
It’s all difficult. But God is greater. Remember what the vine and branches verse says above? “No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine…”
Remember when you got saved? Remember how earth shattering that was? Remember the feelings of joy you experienced after realizing how broken you were? Remember that? That’s what being rooted deeply in Him means. It seems like the older I get, the more I realize how little it would take to knock me off this earth. Also, as I age, I realize how much I have yet to learn. Those realizations can either crumple your spirit and cause you to panic (as I must admit happens to me from time to time) or they can cause you to be so overwhelmed with gratitude that you can hardly utter the words, “Thank you, sweet Jesus.”
With the same amount of power it took to save you, you’re given the power to live for and in Christ. It’s not the kitschy kind of “living for Christ” stuff. It’s the real, gravel in your gut and spit in your eye living for Christ stuff. It’s not just the ability to ding dong ditch a track on your neighbor’s front door stoop. It’s the ability to keep your cool with the customer service representative who is obviously reading a script and ignoring your questions (can I get an amen?!). It’s the ability to find joy in the midst of suffering and death for hope of the promise of every tear being wiped from your eyes one day. It’s the ability to look at the person who hurt you and replace your feelings of frustrations with love and empathy as you realize that they are hurting deeply and that pain is spilling onto anyone near them that possess a pulse. But you have to remain in Him.
You can not loose your salvation by any means. Once your in His grip, you’re there for good. Remaining in Him has all things to do with trusting Him and relying on His strength to fuel you. It has all things to do with walking from faith to faith as we talked about a few weeks ago. You learn one lesson of trust, you move onto the next lesson of trust. Each faith you walk to builds upon itself and gives you strength because what you have learned from God’s Word has proven true again and again. At the end of the day, when you’ve remained in Him, you can honestly say, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)
When you hit that moment, your soul can’t help but overflow with gratitude. That, my friends, is what roots that produce fruits will do to a branch who has remained in the vine.