Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Abide in Christ

TO: All Who Wish to Abide in the Vine
From: Gary and His Grapes

Have you ever tried to make yourself go to sleep? Say it over and over: “I am sleepy; I am sleepy: I need to sleep!” Will that “work”? Will my prayers be answered if I try to make myself sleepy? The act of trying to sleep can interrupt the normal processes of sleepiness. In other words, trying to force myself to sleep keeps me awake. Trying to have faith and rest in Christ is similar.

I have been trying to bear more fruit for Jesus and I know that it requires additional faith to do so. As a result of my study in John 15 and other passages plus books like “In His Steps” I decided to try hard to be Jesus. It wore me out. I felt like such a failure and so condemned all the time that it actually led me into deep depression. I figured that it proved that I had no faith.

In desperation I reread John 15 about bearing fruit. This led me to a great insight. If I wanted to grow more fruit I needed to see how fruit grew best. As a result I spent an entire year researching grapes and how they managed to abide in the vine. I interviewed the big, juicy, fat grapes, since they had mastered the abiding techniques well. It was an intense process.

Below is a sample of some of my interviews. I had 58,966 interviews but most of then ended up sounding just like this one.

Gary: Hello, Mr. Grape. You are so big, juicy and well developed that I want to find out the secret of your success.

Grape: Sure. Thanks for the compliment. I am pretty big and strong.

Gary: You must have worked very hard to get so big and healthy.

Grape: What!! I don’t understand your question. Did you say that I must have worked hard to grow?

Gary: Well, yes. Almost all the preachers, theologians and Sunday school teachers have taught that we are supposed to abide in Jesus the Vine by working hard to please Him.

Grape: Are you nuts? I did nothing. I simply hung on to the vine.

Gary: But, Mr. Grape, how were you able to abide so well? It must be very hard work.

Grape: Where did you study agriculture, the USSR? I am telling you that abiding is resting and I can do nothing on my own. In fact, I have no ability to do anything in the realm of sticking or working to abide more. The vine holds on to me not the other way around.

Gary: That makes no sense to me. It contradicts everything I have ever heard in church and on Christian TV.

Grape: Well, those people don’t seem to know much about fruit, growth and vines. I don’t know where they got that nonsense.

Gary: So, what was it that kept you living in the vine? Was it was your faith in abiding that allowed you to develop so much juice and produce so much? How did you develop into such a giant of faith? Was it hard to do? What about all your failures?

Grape: What do you mean, develop stronger faith so I could be a “Grape of Great Faith”? I have no idea why you are trying to make this so hard? The vine did it all. Every day I just live in the sun, drink what the vine gives me and enjoy the whole thing.

Gary: How do you convince the vine to give you all of that good juice? How do you make sure it is willing to keep you attached?

Grape: This is crazy. I do not even know how to ask the vine for more let alone make it give me anything. It is the very nature of vines to hold on to the grapes. My parents and grandparents all grew up this same way. They just rested in the vine and told me to enjoy the ride.

Gary: I’m not so sure that will work. It makes me nervous to just rest. I always feel better when I try real hard to please the vine and groan to produce more juice.

Grape: By the way, you are making me so nervous it may interfere with my juice production. Anxiety makes me have acid and that eats away at my juice production. Why don’t you go interview some apples or figs? Go see how hard they work to grow so large and juicy.

Gary Sweeten

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