Jump Start # 2357
John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Memorial Day found me out trimming shrubs. I have a lot of shrubs. A lot. Usually, I spread this job out over several evenings. I decided this time to do all of them at one time. Stay at it and get the job done. It was hot and humid. Thanks to my wife for helping because I don’t think I could have finished on my own.
Here is something I found, other than I’m getting old and I don’t have the get up and go like I once did. I cut some branches off a cherry tree. I decided to do all the trimming and then come back and pick up all cuttings. It was about three hours later when I came around to those cherry branches. They were wilted and looking bad. It didn’t take very long. The sun, heat and being cut off, was all it took. And, that took me to our verse today. Cut off from Jesus, one withers spiritually. And, like those branches, it really doesn’t take very long before a person to lose all sense of Jesus in their life.
This is more than a person stops coming to worship. There are things that happened before that. Typically, the downward descent begins with a dying spiritual heart. Prayers stop. There is no reading of God’s word. But, that’s not all. The thinking becomes selfish, secular, and worldly. Bad attitudes return. Forgiveness goes. The spirit of a servant, which God wants all of us to have, dies. Sometimes, the bad habits that one left when they became a Christian returns. And, in a very short time, one would never know that this person was ever a Christian. There is no interest in worshipping God. There is no desire to be around God’s people.
Just like my cut off branches, the heart of this person dies spiritually. The person finds more attraction in the fleeting things of the world. People of the world impress him now. Status. Popularity, The latest shows on TV. Office gossip and flirting. All of these find a home in a heart that no longer loves the Lord. And, there is no foundation to such a life. Oh, things are good as long as things are good. Job, health, money—things seem pretty good. The new person of the world feels like he’s got the world by the tail. Free, like that prodigal, to do whatever he wants. No rules, but his rules. He might even walk away from his marriage, if he feels like it. Nothing is holding him back. He’s like a balloon flying freeing in the sky. It’s likely to go anywhere.
Family and brethren try to appeal to a heart that is now calloused, closed and indifferent to the Lord. There’s no coming back for this person. He’s on top of the world. He’s free. He pities those poor souls who still worship weekly. What a sad life he believes they are living.
There have been many folks who have followed this path. Just like my cut off branch, they have died spiritually. In a very short time, they lose all that they had. Their weakness has kept them from really getting the true picture of Christianity. They never really grew. They don’t know. And, now, they are likely to believe anything and everything. The one thing they are certain about is that they are not going back. Their experience wasn’t positive in their eyes. They have nothing but complaints and finger pointing.
When we no longer abide in the Lord, our hearts become dark. Worry and fear fills the air. Instead of developing the best character, we return to the worst character. The Lord brings out the best in us. The Lord changes our nature. When we walk with the Lord, forgiveness, grace, and, kindness are daily attributes in our lives. With the Lord, we resemble Him. With the Lord, goodness abounds. With the Lord, contentment, peace and hope belong to us. With the Lord, Heaven is going to be our home.
Why do some leave? Why do some no longer abide in the Lord? There are many reasons. Some still have a taste of the world in her mouths. Some have never crucified the old man. They have kept him alive. Some never grew. Some were disillusioned. They thought becoming a Christian meant everything was going to be sunny and perfect from here on out. It’s not. It wasn’t for the apostles. It won’t be for us. There are valleys. There are shadows. There are storms. There are famines. There are lion’s dens and giants that come into our lives. Some don’t understand this. So they leave. They are cut off. They wither. They die.
Our passage ends with the sobering reality of what happens when one is not abiding in the Lord. They are gathered up with others and tossed into the fire. Folks don’t want to talk about these things today. They only want a God who has Heaven. They want Hell to go away. They want God to love, and not have any justice or wrath. They want everyday to be a happy day.
The words of our verse come from Jesus. Abide or be cut off. There is no other options. There is no following at a distance. There is no fair weather Christians. There is no see you at Christmas and Easter. All in, or not in at all. The commitment to the Lord is total. We are to love the Lord with ALL of our heart, mind and soul.
How do I abide in the Lord? Follow Him. Trust Him. Read His word. Obey Him. Worship Him as He directs. Change your ways. Change your thinking. Change your heart. It’ll make you a better person. People around you that are good and decent will appreciate it. God will see it. And, it will show. You’ll start bearing spiritual fruit. You’ll be kind. You’ll be helpful. You’ll think less of self and more of others.
Abide—it’s a choice. It’s a choice that we make every day.