I am absolutely convinced that we live better connected, for it is how we were hardwired.
We were created, first of all, to be connected to the God who made us. Without that relationship, something is lacking. In the Old Testament we read, “as a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul thirsts for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). In the days of the early church, St. Augustine wrote, “God placed a vacuum in every person that only He can fill.” Many, perhaps, can identify with these statements when they have gone their own way and find themselves feeling spiritually empty, for we were created for a connection with God.
We were also created to live connected to one another. In the book of Genesis, after God created Adam, He said it is not good for man to be alone, so He created Eve to be Adam’s companion. God knew we live better connected.
King Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one. Two can withstand the onslaught of any attack. Two can keep each other warm.” Being connected has many advantages.
God has given us a vital connection to better enjoy these first two connections. Jesus speaks about that connection in our text. Jesus is telling us that we live better connected to Him Ð the Son of God. I am the true vine that gives us a life with God. I am the true vine that gives us a life filled with wonder, adventure and beyond comparison. Jesus is the true vine. We can connect our lives to many other vines, but Jesus is the true vine.
This is our core conviction at Christian Crusaders. Jesus is the life-giving connection for each and every person. He can change an individual’s life, for instance, as He wipes away our guilt and helps us let go of the past. As we ponder the burdens of our soul, Jesus points us to the cross and tells us, “I have taken away all your sins. I have paid for them. It’s all been taken care of. You are forgiven. You are a child of God.”
Jesus takes away our fears that can overcome us and make us people of hopeful confidence as we look to the future. He reminds us when it comes to our mortality, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would I have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3).
Not only does Jesus, this life-giving Connection, give us a new outlook on the past and on the future, He also has the power to bring about change in our character and in our personality. “You will bear fruit! Much fruit.”
If you were to ask someone close to you about your quirks, they would probably be able to list a number of things. In fact, if you were to ask your spouse that question, you might need some marital counseling. I remember a wife saying to her husband, “The problem with you is you’re so temperamental Ð 90% temper and 10% mental!”
Well, Jesus came into this world to do something about that issue. He tells us that if we stay connected to Him, we will bear fruit. He is talking about the fruit of the Spirit Ð love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. How enriching our relationships would be if we had all those qualities! The Holy Spirit works those qualities within us, little by little, to conform us to His image. Slowly our behavior, our attitudes, and our thinking become more like Jesus.
Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose-Driving Life wrote, “God’s number one purpose in your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make the child of God more like the Son of God.” I heard someone else say, “God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.” God has better ideas for your life, and if we want those kinds of changes in our life, Jesus tells us we need to abide in Him, for apart from Him, we can do nothing.
Jesus calls us to cling to Him. A statement out of Christianity Today says, “For too long, we have called on unbelievers to invite Jesus into your life. Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life’s a wreck! Jesus calls you into His life. And His life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.”
Abiding in Jesus Christ means we absorb Him into our lives by dwelling in His Word and recognizing that He’s with us. It means to call upon Him and enjoy the pleasure of His company. In God’s Word we find Jesus’ words of correcting and forgiveness, teaching and strengthening. He enlightens us to live the life God intended for us in the first place. We live better connected to the true vine, Jesus Christ.
Now what I’ve also discovered is that, as Christ’s followers, we live better connected to each other. The best way to keep the life-changing connection with Christ flowing is to gather around the Word of God, perhaps in a small group. Take time to read Scripture together and discuss it. Go to a Christian bookstore and buy a Bible study book, then invite someone to take that pilgrimage with you and meet regularly around the Word of God. Discuss its effect as you apply it in your daily life. You’ll be amazed what a difference it can make in your life and in your growth in Christ Jesus!
Hundreds of people in my congregation have taken a step to join a small group. I hear all the time about the blessings they receive through these groups. One fellow told me that when his wife asked him to join a small group Bible study, he went with the intention of trying it out, but never going back. “I thought I’d let her kick and scream to try to get me back, but she never had to. Ten years later, my Bible study friends are truly some of my closest friends. It’s been fun, life-changing, and eye-opening.”
Another friend of mine writes, “My faith has grown tremendously through my small group. I’ve learned how much God loves me. He forgives my imperfections and wants me to reach out to others. As a result, recently I took a risk and shared my faith with a good friend who doesn’t know Jesus.”
Another person said, “Through my small group, I have learned that God doesn’t want us to go it alone in life. He wants to bless us with supportive friends who can keep us accountable and enhance our journey toward eternity with Him.”
Maybe you are traveling down the highway with Jesus toward your destination of heaven. I encourage you to try the car pool lane with a small group. In the car pool lane you find friends to watch for bad weather and redirect you on the right road if you get lost along the way. They make the journey so much more exciting and meaningful. Again and again, people have been discovering life is lived better connected.
Do you have someone in your life with whom you could sit down with the Word of God, hold each other accountable, read through the Gospels, meet and pray for one another? It can be a life-giving connection in your life with Jesus Christ.
Jesus says, “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.” My appeal this day to you is to choose to live better connected. For some of you, it might be the first time you surrender your life to Christ’s care. I encourage you to do it right now.
For others who are already made clean by His Word, Jesus is calling you to remain committed to His holy Word. Find a fellow traveler or two and start a discussion group on God’s Word. Go to church and hear God’s Word proclaimed. Be a person who is connected to Christ, and you will discover for yourself, life is better connected.