As a Kiwi I love rugby! It's our national game and I can't help but get excited watching the All Blacks play.
However, my passion has limits. To be honest, I'm not up with who is on the team. While I know a few of the players, I couldn't name more than half of them. This doesn't really matter most of the time as I live in Australia and 'footy' could mean union, AFL or NRL.
Occasionally I engage in a rugby conversation that quickly goes way beyond what I know. Trying to bluff my way around the conversation doesn't last—I'm shown up for being out of touch.
Are you connected?
Being out of touch with current events, pop culture, sport, or technology is hard to hide. As soon as you open your mouth it shows. If I talked about Richie McCaw as though he were a current All Black it would show me up for being WAY out of touch—disconnected from current events and stories.
What about when it comes to being connected with Jesus? Disconnection, staleness and drift may be less obvious—the gospel is still the same after all—who Jesus is and what he has done hasn't changed.
It can be easy to fake a current connection to Jesus—even faking it to ourselves—and even without realising it we can find ourselves out of touch with Jesus.
Having once been close and learning from him; loving to follow him, speak to him and hear from him in his word—like the friend you don't hang out with anymore—you lose touch and drift away.
In John chapter 15 Jesus speaks to his disciples about being connected to him.
Jesus said: '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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.'
Jesus speaks of himself as the vine. The vine is an image used in the Old Testament for God's people. Here Jesus says he is the vine. If someone is to be one of God's people, to be in his family, they must be in Jesus the vine.
As branches we are connected to Jesus through faith in him; trusting in him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life that he has given through his death and resurrection.
In Jesus we find life, growth, and fruitfulness! Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Apart from him we find dryness, staleness and death! Jesus says remain in him.
Maybe you hear this and think, yeah – I feel pretty close to Jesus – you feel grateful for life in him and treasure being with him. Let these verses encourage you – Remain in Jesus the vine and keep following him in love and obedience.
Remain in him
Maybe you've felt the dryness, a distance and staleness—disconnected from Jesus. Let theses verses call to you: remain in him.
Maybe the dryness is just for a time; a winter of little growth with spring around the corner. Hang in there and remain in him.
But maybe there is more to it. Maybe the dryness has come from reliance on the past or on other things—other than being connected to Jesus. Maybe a strong past has led to complacency. But a friendship cannot thrive without time. Draw near and invest in your relationship to Jesus.
Regular comment writing has challenged me to reflect on whether I am close to Jesus. Every month I question what I will write about. Will I write from a place of closeness to Christ, from current connection to him? Or will I be digging into past times of closeness?
I hope to not merely be reflecting on the latest news, culture or my feelings as I write each month. No! I hope to write about walking closely with Jesus, connected and alive in my faith.
Let us remain in Christ the life-giving vine—not for the sake of better writing, but for the very life and soul!
Andrew Sinclair is a Kiwi living in Sydney, Australia with his wife Sophia and their son Guy. He is studying theology at Sydney Missionary and Bible College.
Andrew Sinclair's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/andrew-sinclair.html