Saturday, May 26, 2007

Connected to Jesus?

Today's New Testament reading puts me in mind of a sermon we heard in Japan. Our pastor said that he used to think the Christian life was like a rechargeable shaver. At a meeting on Sunday morning or afternoon, or Friday evening, or whenever, he would charge up the shaver's battery, and then it would run like great guns -- at least on the same day. Over the next several days, the battery would run down, and the shaver would start sounding old and tired. Then, at the next meeting, it would get charged up again and sound terrific for a day or so.

He illustrated this with his own rechargeable shaver -- he plugged in the charger and the shaver ran great for 10-20 seconds, but then you could hear it slowing down.

He repeated this cycle many times, he said, until he understood that life with God was not supposed to be like that. We aren't supposed to run independently except for occasional recharging sessions, he said; rather, we're supposed to be plugged in, connected to Jesus, all the time.

At this point, he pulled out another shaver, which had no battery. He plugged it in and turned it on; it ran. So long as it was plugged in, it ran; as soon as he pulled the plug, it stopped.

Now of course Jesus didn't mention electric shavers when he talked with his disciples about his connection to them. Rather, he used an analogy they understood immediately: that of a vine (or a trunk) and branches. He is the vine, he said, and he told the disciples:
4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ”
John 15:4-5
So here's the thing: if we want any result to come from our lives, we need to remain in Jesus continually.

What does that mean? I think Jesus gives us a clue a little later on.

"9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
John 15:9-10
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the meaning of "remain in me" is really close to "remain in my love", if it's not the exact same thing. To walk in the way of Jesus, to follow his commands -- that seems to be what we chiefly need.

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