I’m writing this morning from a hallway in the children’s ministry building of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. We’re promoting mygrandmatime at the Legacy Coalition Grandparenting Summit. Ironically, as I think about today’s topic I think about our having to decide whether to keep our display where it is or move it to a different location. At this point, we feel called to stay.
This turns out to be one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian life—the simple repetitiveness of it. Left, right, left, right. Again and again, over and over. All the way. Every day. Like a long walk uphill. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
Why is this so clear in other relationships, but such a foreign concept when it comes to our relationship with God?
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. (John 15:4 ESV)
Some translations use the word remain instead of abide. I think this captures the concept that Jesus is talking about continuous action. We are prone to wander. Just watch children if you are unconvinced. Restrict a child to a particular space and they will quickly look for an opportunity to move. As adults, it may become easy to stay in a particular space, as in couch potatoes. We don’t enjoy change in one way, but when it comes to letting someone else determine our movements, we’re very reluctant.
This is what abiding in Christ implies. Wilbourne has gone to great links to convince us that Christ is in us and we are in Christ. This is a spiritual reality. The challenge is to make this a mental and physical reality. This requires constant decision making. Sometimes Jesus moves and I must make a decision to move with him. I find it more frustrating when Jesus remains still and asks me to stay with him.
Wilbourne connects two words with this decision making, faith, and repentance. Simply, faith is deciding to trust God and repentance is turning toward him every time I decide to turn away. In my faith tradition, we have turned these into two vital steps in the plan of salvation. I agree that they are both vital to our salvation, but disagree that these actions can be treated as once for all events. Baptism should be a once in a lifetime event, but believing and repenting are constant.
Every step I take in life I choose to trust God or not. Every move I make in my walk with God I make a decision to walk toward him or away from him. It really isn’t complicated. It is challenging because it does mean that I give up control. I always have a choice, but that doesn’t seem to make it any easier.