Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
In this passage, we find Jesus talking about His ability to bring life and fruitfulness to all who abide in Him. He speaks of the Father being the husbandman and Himself, the vine. Just as He has total dependency on the Father, we must have total dependency on Him to complete us, if we wish to bear fruit. In other words, we cannot truly succeed alone.
In Genesis God said it is not good for man to be alone. The Father is literally telling us that being alone is bad for our future progress and growth. This statement is not just related to marriage but encompasses the need for healthy relationships in all areas of life. We thrive as a part of something beyond ourselves. Without God, we are dead in trespass and sin. Without each other, we suffer a lonely existence void of celebration and community. To experience life in its fullest expression, we truly need one another.
I have recognized the great value of cultivating healthy relationships time after time in my own life. They help us through difficult times, and they offer a venue to share our joy communally through great times. There is nothing like partnering with people to share life!
In light of this deeply-ingrained need for one another, how should we look at being part of a local assembly? Our place in the corporate context of other believers is vitally important because it’s the only plan God made for our fellowship with each other. If we hope to be fruitful and successful in life, we must learn to work together. There is no escaping the great expectation God has for all believers to coordinate our efforts and learn to bear fruit as a unit, and not just individually.
Over the last few decades, there has been a shift toward idol worship, super-stardom and covetousness throughout the world. Whether in sports, music, television or ministry, there seems to be a longing for the spotlight to validate and authenticate our actions. The concept of team building is being cast by the wayside and the art of networking has become altogether selfish.
Jesus related the Kingdom to a man who cast a net into the sea. If we play with this concept a little we can see the Kingdom rests in the hands of Jesus, and we are the net (or network) being cast in order to bring about a harvest of souls. The net must be whole, complete and strong for maximum impact—the harvest is lost when there are tears and gaps.
The same concept works in our lives individually. We need power relationships and a local assembly to work alongside other believers. Without this structure in place, our results will be greatly limited. We can achieve a level of success individually, but we will never realize the God potential that comes with the corporate dynamic.
In the coming holiday season, find the time to evaluate your value on the various teams you find yourself in. As a parent, sibling, co-worker, parishioner, etc., do you bring what is necessary to bless and support others, or would things work out the same without you? Now is the time we as believers must be willing to engage ourselves! Let this season be a time of transition from self-centered thinking that says “what about me,” and find your refreshing in how you can bring value to the teams you’re on.
If you don’t have strong relationships, a thriving personal network and a place to serve, my prayer is you will not rest until those areas of your life are whole and functional.
– Ps. Ken
Ken can be found each week at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the website to check out his sermons and/or learn more about Spirit Life.