“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
“I can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13)
Greetings fellow mountain movers,
We come into this world so frail and vulnerable. From the moment we are out of the womb, danger is all around us - helpless, we are in need of assistance - we can’t feed ourselves, defend ourselves, save ourselves. Immediately we are in a position of life and death, and if it were not for the intervention of our caregivers, we would surely perish. For the first several years of life, even through to adulthood, we are dependent upon parents to guide us through and keep us from self-destruction. I have a picture of a little child trying to walk for the first time – we are anxiously watching their every move as they hang on to the coffee table, and then hesitantly let go and try to walk without assistance – to the floor they fall. So, we come behind them as they hang on to our fingers, and they learn to put one foot in front of the other, as we walk with them. It’s a picture of total dependence; one the parent wishes would never end. The hardest part of parenting is watching them walk…walk away from you into the wide open dangerous world – the first time they are out of the house without you to “be there for them” – first day of school; first day of taking the car alone; first day of moving out of the house to start their own life…without you. It’s Independence Day for them. It’s Dependence Day for the parent – releasing your child to God to look after and “take it from here” (which, I guess we should have been doing all along).
This independence we all seem to seek is so contrary to life in Christ. When His disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus told them that those who become like little children, humble themselves, and become dependent on God, would be the greatest (Matt. 18:1-5). God wants us totally dependent on Him. Why? Because apart from Him we can do nothing. What a definitive statement – NOTHING! In context, Jesus says in John 15, that we need to “abide in Him”; be connected to Him like a branch to a vine, with His life sap running through us, in order to produce anything that is of value to Him. It is such a simple picture we can all understand – if the branch is cut off from the vine it produces no fruit – it withers and dies. But attached, it produces fruit that lasts – we were chosen to produce fruit for and by Jesus (John 15:16). We are talking about what is truly of value to God. Many people produce great things apart from God, but we know that all of the great achievements people have made for the sake of people, will all perish and burn up one day. But doing kingdom work for Jesus, does not burn up, but lasts eternally (See 1Cor. 3:10-15).
If we can do nothing without Jesus, then we should be able to do everything He wants us to do with Him. That is why Paul confidently states, while in a Roman prison, writing to the Philippian church, “I can do all things through Christ”, even rejoice in the middle of really difficult trials, which is the context of Paul’s claim (Phil 4:10-14). No Thing without Christ, All Things with Christ! Jesus told His disciples – that’s us too – that we would do greater things. We are destined to do great things! (John 14:12) We are not talking about worldly things that have no eternal value. God gives us the ability to accomplish great things for His name sake, and for His Kingdom purposes (Col. 3:17). If we can do it in our strength, it probably has no kingdom value, and we are the ones who will get the praise. We always want to do things that bring our King glory. History is full of such examples.
How could Joshua go into enemy territory and claim their land for God’s people? Because God was with him as He was with Moses (Josh. 1:5-6). How could Samson destroy all those Philistines? Because the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him (Judges 14:6, 15:14; 16:28). How could David accomplish his great military victories? Because he abided in God and sought His strength saying, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psa. 18:29). How could Peter so boldly preach and see 3,000 get saved in one day? Because Jesus was with him. How could Billy Graham reach millions of people for Jesus? Because the Spirit of Christ was empowering him to proclaim the word of God. Friends, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living in us! How can we do those difficult things we need to do – through Christ in us. God has called you to do great kingdom things…hard things, that you can only accomplish with God. At work, at home, in your family, and everyday relationships, there are opportunities for the abiding Christ to shine through you and empower you to overcome every difficulty. Paul could confidently proclaim, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). When Mary wondered how she, a virgin, could bare the Son of God and Son of Man, the angel answered, “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37 NKJ). The apostle John writes of Jesus, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Without Jesus nothing happens. With Jesus, all things are possible. If you want to live in the reality of the greater things God has planned for you, abide in Christ, become like a little child, totally dependent on Him.
Have a great week!