August 19, 2012

Impossible without Jesus

Yesterday’s post was about the legitimacy of feeling weak and unable. Even though that is normal for someone who is trusting in the power of God, helplessness is not the only way I should feel. This morning, two passages describe other characteristics of a Christian who is walking in the Spirit and trusting in God, not themselves.
The first one is from John’s gospel. These are the word of Jesus…
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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)
Abiding in Jesus is another way of saying that I must trust Him in every way, clinging to Him as my source of life, realizing that apart from Him, nothing I do has any eternal value. It is also being continuously sustained by His life. As I constantly receive His fullness into my emptiness, I am “living in the true, full, deep sense of the word, that life of eternity.” This is a privilege now but will be the norm when I go to be with Him forever. 

As I think about that abiding and about the sense of helplessness that goes with it, a question pops into my head. Is helplessness and feeling weak the only way to be certain that I am strong and filled with the power of God? No, because that is self-centered and judging my life by looking at me. The weakness might be there, but instead of putting my focus on how I feel, I will be looking at Jesus, relying on Jesus, thinking of Him and caring about others.

Then these verses come to mind. If I am abiding in Jesus and walking in the power of His Spirit, then certain things, even emotions, will be true and others will be absent…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22–26)
A Spirit-filled Christian loves others, as already said, but also is joyful. That is, I might feel helpless, but it will not be a “poor-me” attitude. Joy will fill my heart, as will peace and patience. I will not be impatient with others, nor with myself, wishing that I didn’t feel weak and wanting something more. The Holy Spirit’s fruit does not list contentment, but it is definitely part of what it means to have Him in charge of my life.

The negatives will also be missing. A Spirit-filled person cannot be conceited. I cannot boast that I am filled with the Spirit of God, for as soon as I do that, then I am filled with myself. 

I will not be irritating or challenging others either, nor will I envy them. Those are never characteristics of God and those who are abiding in Him and filled with His power will not feel or act like that. 

Weak, yet strong? Helpless, yet joyful? No thoughts about myself, nor even any self-evaluation, yet contented and without conceit? This sounds impossible and it is. That is why Jesus said that apart from Him, I can do nothing.

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